Out of all the parents who packed the School Board chambers Thursday night to voice their opinions on proposed plans for new school zones, none were more vocal than parents from zone DN32.
The meeting was a public hearing and work session on the new attendance zones for Discovery and Moorefield Elementary schools, scheduled to open for the 2013-2014 school year.
Under the three plans proposed by School Board members, the northern part of DN32 off Truro Parish Drive would be split and attend Hillside Elementary to alleviate overcrowding at their current elementary school, Mill Run.
The “base plan,” prepared Loudoun County Public Schools staff, leaves DN32 unaltered.
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) proposed two plans, both which split the zone in order to fix overcrowding at Mill Run, which is at 97 to 104 percent capacity.
“The whole point of this plan is to provide relief,” Hornberger said. “And in the Ashburn [planning area] area we do not have plans for future schools coming down the line.”
Several parents from the zone turned out to speak, accompanied by others in the crowd who held up pieces of paper with the message “DON’T SPLIT 32.”
Usually, audience members are asked to show agreement by waving their fingers instead of clapping or making any noise that could disrupt the meeting.
“We needed something to show the Board besides our hands what our message was,” said Melissa O’Rouke, the parent who printed the signs.
Cliff Keirce, former chair of the Broadlands Homeowners’ Association, argued that the overcrowding at Mill Run wasn’t a problem for parents.
“I’ve never had concerns about the size of the school or the crowding, even in the year it had 1,400 students,” Keirce told the Board.
Loudoun County Public Schools contemplated splitting DN32 in the past and sending some of the population to Legacy Elementary School and Creighton’s Corner Elementary School when they opened.
“I’ve worked real hard working with school members to see the reasonableness of staying together,” Keirce said after the meeting.
Hornberger’s plans also included the possibility of multi-track year-round elementary school at Selden’s Landing Elementary School by the 2014-2015 school year to increase its enrollment by 200-250 students.
If the calendar was not implemented, those students would be reassigned to Stueart W. Weller Elementary School.
School Board member Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) proposed a third plan with the goal of creating zones with as little future changes as possible.
“I tried to identify the DN’s that were in stable areas,” Kuesters said. “I’m trying to set some type of permanency to the extent we can stabilize the attendance zones.”
Kuesters said the intent of his plan was to set schools on a path for 88 to 95 percent capacity.
His plan makes 15 changes from the base plan, four of which zone students back into their current schools.
His plan shifts DN39, inside of Belmont Country Club, from Newton Lee Elementary School to Belmont Station Elementary School.
It would be the only neighborhood in the country club going to school outside of it in his plan.
Some parents who spoke approved of the four plans presented, many more spoke against them.
None of the plans are final and will continue to be refined. The next School Board work session is scheduled for Nov. 5 and the next public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Editor’s Note: This story was corrected after print to reflect that Hornberger’s attendance zone plans included the possibility of multi-track year round elementary school. In a multi-track program, the student body is divided up into groups that attend school at different times throughout the year, with breaks in between grades.
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