Parents Worry Over School Switch

Parents Worry Over School Switch

Parents question county plans at input session on Arcola Elementary School boundaries.

For mothers Christie Nader and Sarah Kinzer, the biggest concern about the proposed boundaries for the new Arcola Elementary School in the Stone Ridge subdivision, is how many times their children will have to move.

"Three different schools in three different school years is really unacceptable for these children," Kinzer, a South Riding resident, said.

Kinzer and Nader were only two of the parents who attended the first public input session on the possible boundaries for Arcola Elementary Monday night. They gathered with other parents in the gymnasium of Pinebrook Elementary.

"I don't care if we are at Pinebrook or Arcola, we just want a home school," Nader said.

MANY OF THE parents present at the Oct. 16 session with Sam Adamo, the director of Planning and Legislative Services for the school system, expressed concerns over the numbers of times their children would be forced to switch schools.

"We don't want to be moved to Arcola next year and then to South Riding Station when that opens," Kinzer, who has a first- and second-grader currently at Pinebrook, said. The way the plans look now, Kinzer said, her first-grader would see three new schools in three years.

While Nader and Kinzer said they expected some changes when they moved to a developing area, they did not expect as many as are possible for their children.

"I wouldn't have a problem switching next year, if we could guarantee that they would stay at Arcola," Nader, who has children in kindergarten and second grade at Pinebrook, said. "But they won't make that guarantee."

Several other parents at the meeting told Adamo that they would rather tough out one year at a school that is overcapacity than see their children moved back and forth.

"I just don't want to see my children moved more than once," Kinzer said.

BOTH MOTHERS SAID they think there are some advantages to going to a new school, including top-of-the-line facilities, programs and equipment, but they said the constant changes make them hesitant to become involved in the school.

"I don't feel an allegiance to the school because we know we might be moved," Nader said. "While I am involved with my kids, I don't join the PTA or anything because I don't know what is going to be my home school."

Kinzer said it can also be frustrating for parents who fund raise and spend money to help purchase things for a new school to be moved soon after the school opens.

"We help raise money for a new playground or something the county doesn't pay for, and then our child is moved and can't take advantage of those things," she said.

THREE OF THE four boundary maps proposed for Arcola Elementary School place Pinebrook's enrollment at more than 1,000 students, something some parents at the meeting were concerned about.

Adamo said that the chance of extremely high enrollment at Pinebrook was low as other schools come online and are opened.

"Schools with high capacity have to do some creative management, giving up work rooms, art rooms, music rooms," he said. "We understand the need for South Riding."

Adamo said that while the county is planning to open more schools in coming years, he admitted that it might be difficult to do.

"We have a limited amount of funding to get these schools online," he said.

One of the main problems with opening schools is the acquisition of land, which is becoming a finite resource in the county. Adamo said it costs the county approximately $350,000 to $400,000 per acre for land, when there is water and sewer on the property.

"There are significant challenges ahead of us," Adamo said. "We are trying to balance my needs for land and school sites with the cost of construction."

The second boundary input session will be held at Aldie Elementary School, Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m.