An administrative boundary change will cause the Daventry subdivision of Springfield to feed into West Springfield High School rather than Robert E Lee High School.
Image courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools
Kelly Wevley’s daughter will be in middle school next year. As a Daventry subdivision resident, she will attend Washington Irving Middle School in Springfield. And under previous boundaries, she would eventually continue to ninth grade at Robert E. Lee High School while friends and classmates outside of Daventry would attend West Springfield High School.
On top of simply becoming a teenager, Wevley said the impending divide “was already causing her anxiety.”
Thanks to an administrative boundary change, announced to parents in a May 20 letter from Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Karen Garza, Wevley’s daughter will have one fewer concern going into high school. The update reassigns the entire Daventry (Hunter Village) subdivision from Lee to West Springfield, effective for the 2015-2016 school year.
Students from Daventry currently progress from West Springfield Elementary School to Irving to Lee, and are the only ones from that elementary school that don’t feed into West Springfield High School.
On hearing the news about the shift, Wevley said her daughter “felt a huge sense of relief, comfort.”
Because it affects less than five percent of enrollment of both the sending and receiving schools, Fairfax County policy puts the change at the discretion of the superintendent.
A function of School Board policy 8130.7, the process isn’t used often, according to Springfield School Board representative Elizabeth Schultz.
“But it has its place,” she said. “The real intention was to fix very small cohorts of children, a bad split-feeder. Instead of a major upheaval, we had to look strategically and do small fixes that are common sense-based.”
THE SPLIT-FEEDER situation in Daventry came up previously nearly a decade ago. Current West Springfield principal Michael Mukai was an assistant principal at the school at the time. He said the proposed change was met with more opposition. “It did not happen,” he said. “This time, it’s a different set of circumstances.”
The primary difference is total student population at West Springfield. Mukai said eight and nine years ago it was at capacity, around 2,400 students. With declining graduating class sizes of late, enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year is projected to be around 2,100.
“It’s a challenge,” said Mukai. “It means you have fewer kids selecting classes and that’s how you staff a building.”
Currently, the principal said with the projected drop of around 125 students schoolwide for the 2015-2016 school year, nine teachers will be impacted -- receiving new assignments elsewhere in the county -- based on the formula of need determined by Fairfax County.
And though the addition of students from Daventry won’t make up for the loss, “Every student we add changes the ratio slightly,” said Mukai.
As West Springfield moves closer to beginning a long-awaited renovation, Schultz and Mukai said developing a stronger community and stability across students and staff is critical.
“If I can stabilize the experience for the kids coming in, for the employees in the building as well,” said Schultz, “that’s what I was so determined to advocate on behalf of.”
KELLY WEVLEY, whose 14-year-old son will enter ninth grade at West Springfield instead of Lee, agreed this should help unify the geographic and academic communities.
“Even if it’s eight or nine out of 500 kids, to those kids, to have to leave your friends is kind of traumatic at that point,” Wevley said. “From the time they’re in elementary school, you get invited to West Springfield High School sports camps, cheer-leading, to play sports -- you’re over there. To be pulled away to Lee, having never been in the building, felt kind of ostracizing.”
“The biggest thing is we’ll continue to show is kids that move to us have always been welcome here,” Mukai said. “We have dozens who come from all over the country each year and we do a great job of helping them become a part of the Spartan community.”