No Neighborhood Is an Island … For Long

No Neighborhood Is an Island … For Long

Elementary students living in Springfield Crossing may change schools.

For the last seven years or so, elementary school students living in the Springfield Crossing apartment complex, in the heart of Forestdale Elementary School’s attendance boundary, have been attending Springfield Estates Elementary, just a few hundred yards north of Forestdale. That may change in the next couple of years.

With Springfield Estates well over capacity and a modular addition recently built at Forestdale, Fairfax County Public Schools is considering moving those students back to the school their neighbors attend and eliminating the tiny boundary island that Metropolitan Center Drive now sits on.

School Board member Brad Center (Lee) said the school system’s staff had only proposed the change to the School Board recently, and the July 16 work session was the first time the board had discussed it. "We’re at the very preliminary stages," he said, noting that public meetings would take place and a study carried out before a decision is made, at which point the School Board "may or may not go with the recommendation."

Gary Chevalier, the school system’s director of facilities planning, said the boundary island was created when the apartment complex was built around 2000. "At that time, Forestdale didn’t have room to accommodate those kids," he said. Chevalier said the number of students expected to be transferred was estimated to be about 115.

As of last year, he said, Springfield Estates was badly overcrowded, with a capacity for 469 students and a population of 651. Meanwhile, Forestdale, with the new modular addition, had a capacity of 606 and a population of just 429.

Chevalier said a community meeting will be scheduled to measure public sentiment on the proposal in late November and will possibly be followed by another meeting before the school system’s staff makes is final recommendation to the School Board in January 2008. The School Board will then conduct a public hearing in February before making a decision.

School Board member Janet Oleszek (At-large) noted that boundary islands cause complications with busing. "It makes sense to keep kids closer to their transportation source and reduce their travel time," she said. As for capacity issues, Oleszek said the school system needs to "use our buildings optimally, because there are no resources to waste."