The Fairfax County School Board held a hybrid regular meeting on Jan. 21. Jeffrey K. Platenberg, assistant superintendent, Facilities and Transportation Services, brought forward a new informational business item, a review of the McLean HS Boundary Adjustment Process.
"The purpose of the McLean High School Boundary Study and the recommended boundary adjustments is really to provide the capacity relief to McLean High School by using the available capacity of Langley High School. The study also includes the middle schools to provide continuity in the school feeder pattern from elementary onto middle and high schools, and any change made," Platenberg said.
According to Platenberg, FCPS recommended that the School Board approve a boundary adjustment of a portion of the Spring Hill Elementary School split feeder area to feed from Longfellow Middle School (2000 Westmoreland Street, Falls Church) and McLean High School to Cooper Middle School (977 Balls Hill Road, McLean) and Langley High School. Any approved boundary adjustment would not change the elementary school boundary.
Platenberg's presentation focused on the four options developed and provided at the Boundary Study Community Meeting held on Dec. 7.
Option A considered reassigning students in the Colvin Run Elementary School split feeder area and a portion of Westbriar Elementary School. *Option B considered reassigning students in the Colvin Run Elementary School split feeder area, a portion of the Spring Hill Elementary School split feeder area and a Westbriar Elementary School portion.
Option C considered reassigning students in the Spring Hill Elementary School split feeder area.
Option D was no change.
THE PRESENTATION noted that during the Dec. 7 meeting, the community reviewed the options, and staff continued to collect comments via email. Concerns about development in Tysons, split feeders, and the schools' socioeconomic diversity were the major feedback themes. Given the accumulated information, FCPS revised Option C as their recommendation. The suggested model addressed community feedback and concerns on existing housing and population growth and planned development. It allowed continued monitoring of growth at McLean HS and Langley HS.
Platenberg acknowledged the final numbers would vary, as shown on the slide presentation. Enrollment estimates did not address phasing, commonly referred to as "grandfathering." Also, student adjustments were estimates that used SY 2019-20 numbers. These numbers would vary.
FCPS estimated that 159 students would be reassigned from McLean HS to Langley HS and 73 students reassigned from Longfellow MS to Cooper MS.
According to Policy 8130.7 Section XI. Phasing of Adjustments: "When possible, adjustments under this policy shall be implemented through attrition and phasing. The School Board may approve a grade-by-grade phase-in of adjustments for students beginning with the incoming class at the middle or high school levels, when feasible. The School Board may adopt other phasing plans as appropriate to the individual boundary study. Parents of rising sixth (or fifth) graders, eighth graders, and twelfth graders affected by a boundary change may, at the discretion of the School Board, be provided the option of having their students remain in the school they attended prior to the change".
Platenberg said that the next steps in the McLean/Langley Boundary Study are a School Board Meeting-Public Hearing on Thursday, Jan. 28, to obtain additional public comment and a School Board Meeting the next week, on Feb. 4, when the School Board is scheduled for a vote on the boundary adjustment.
THE AFFECTED SCHOOLS feed into the FCSB's Dranesville magisterial district represented by Elaine Tholen. She said, "We have a public hearing next week, and then a vote on how we will move forward with the boundary adjustment on Feb. 4. I encourage all of you to be part of this process… I'm committed to continue listening to you."
Tholen said she was aware of the community feedback urging to keep numbers balanced moving forward with any uncertainties after COVID and area development. She understood the community's request that the School Board not inadvertently overload Cooper MS and yet still provide some relief to McLean HS and Longfellow MS as well as attempt to reduce the impact to two different split feeders, "keeping students together through their elementary school pyramid up to high school."
Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Fairfax County School Board Member At-Large, said she thought the community would be well served regardless of the final decision, "because all of these schools in Fairfax County are great schools." "But the importance of the process is really valuable for transparency and community input," Sizemore Heizer said.
A video of the FCPS School Board Meeting on Jan. 21, 2021, is available on YouTube via FCPS. For additional information about the options presented on Dec. 7, visit McLean HS Proposed Boundary Adjustment.