The families arrived to the Loudoun County Administrative Building in Ashburn in droves.
Different neighborhoods showed their affiliations with similarly colored apparel -Brambleton sporting orange tops, Ashburn Village and Belmont Country Club in green and the Broadlands donning purple. Every table in the School Board room was full as more than 400 people piled into the School Board meeting room.
“I have a theory,” said Cliff Keirce to the board. “Every once in a while, you all get lonely, so you decide to bring out the folks. Well, the folks are here.”
All the folks arrived to voice their grievances at the public hearing for the Ashburn and Dulles North re-zoning, the second of five Loudoun County Public Schools will have. After the release of the Loudoun County staff plan, presented by Sam Adamo March 11, many area family's were incensed.
“It's less important where we are and more important that we're together,” said Jennifer Manning, a resident of Belmont Country Club, which would be split into two different schools under the base plan.
Mary Riley, a resident of Ashburn Farm, complained of the constant re-zoning the area has faced. “If you move my street today, how will I know you won't move us again in two years?” She asked the Board. Though part of Ashburn Farm, DN25 and DN26 are closer to Broad Run, the area has been attending Stone Bridge. Under the base plan, DN16, which currently goes to Broad Run, will flip attendance with DN25 and DN26, prompting parents to bring sandals to oppose the “flip-flop.”
There was some respite for parents when School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) presented his plan, called Plan 1.
Under Hornberger's plan, most communities remain together, with the exceptions of Belmont Country Club, Ashburn Village and Brambleton. It also limits the amount of areas that would have to change both middle and high schools to three zones.
Hornberger cautioned that his plan was just a building block and far from final.
“It's not a plan I think is there,” Hornberger said. “But it's moving the conversation.”
Community members are welcome to propose plans of their own and several people have intimated they will, including a group of parents from Brambleton who are peeved part of their area gets shipped away from Briar Woods to the new HS-6.
“Everybody wants to stay at the community school,” said Rich Kelsey, who helped design the new plan. “But not every community has a school.”
With six more meetings and hearing lefts left regarding the new zones, it is unlikely any of the current plans will end up as the final plans and, as both Hornberger and Fox asserted, impossible everyone will end up happy.
“The key is you have to listen to what the community says, look at your policy and the realities and do the best you can to reconcile those elements,” Hornberger said.
The next school board attendance zone public hearing and work session will be held March 20 at the Loudoun County School Administration building.