When Mill Run Elementary School Principal Paul Vickers walked the halls Friday, a long line of students greeted him.
Twenty second-graders streamed out of a small classroom, originally intended for two special programs classes. In the classroom, the teacher has managed to squeeze in her desk, as well as 20 desks and seats and a red-carpeted reading area.
“It’s small, but it works,” Vickers said.
This year, Mill Run Elementary School is home to 972 kindergarten through fifth-grade students. There are six classrooms of kindergartners, eight classrooms of first-graders, seven classrooms of second-graders, seven classrooms of third-graders, six classrooms of fourth-graders and six classrooms of fifth-graders. All with 25 students each.
All of Mill Run’s regular education classrooms are full, but Vickers said teachers and students are accustomed to 25 students per classroom.
“The school was built for 780, but we’ve had as many as 1,000 [students,]” he said. “It’s very doable.”
EVEN THOUGH Mill Run’s classrooms work, Vickers said a new school would allow some flexibility. It would also give Jean Rizzo, Mill Run’s English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, a new home.
The ESL classroom is easy to find. Go through the library doors, past the stacks of shelves, straight back to the best-lit corner of the room.
On Friday, Rizzo bounced around the back right corner of the library. She helped a student on a computer. She took three steps to the right and helped two students at their desks. Finally, she took one step back and observed children playing on the floor.
“It works,” Vickers said again.
WHEN RESIDENTS go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, they will be asked to vote on the method of funding the cost to design, construct and equip the new $19,750,000 elementary school in the Ashburn area, ES-19.
Sam Adamo, director of Planning and Legislative Services, said the second question on the ballot is a straightforward one.
“The need is there,” he said. “The student population is growing.”
The new elementary school will relieve Ashburn, Dominion Trail, Mill Run, Newton Lee and Seldens Landing elementary schools.
“Our biggest concern is Seldens Landing and Mill Run,” Adamo said. “Both schools are at capacity.”
EVEN THOUGH a new school would relieve Mill Run of some students, the principal said he hates the idea of losing them to another school.
“There’s a downside. This is a wonderful community,” he said. “It’s heart-wrenching, losing families.”
Last year, Mill Run lost 300 students to Legacy Elementary School in Ashburn, Vickers said. Now, the 2-year-old school is home to 1,050 students.