In a lengthy briefing and public hearing April 4, the Loudoun County School Board introduced three more plans for the Ashburn and Dulles North re-zoning.
The plans are the fourth, fifth and sixth plans introduced by the School Board in what has already been a contentious month-long process. The re-zoning could impact students from as many as six high schools and six middle schools.
Plan 4, introduced by Bill Fox (Leesburg), largely models Plan 3, introduced by Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run).
“I used Plan 3 as a starting point because it did a better job of keeping HOAs together while still staying true to cluster alignments,” Fox said. He noted, however, that some changes were necessary to prevent overcrowding in certain schools.
Unlike Plan 3, Plan 4 separates Belmont Country Club, sending only the portion inside the gates as well as DN39 to the new HS-8 (opening 2015-2016 in Lansdowne). DNs 46.1, 46, 45.1, 44.2a, 44.2, 24, 24.1 and 23 also move from Briar Woods to HS-6 (opening 2014-2015 in Loudoun Valley Estates). Unlike Plan 3, DN4 stays at Broad Run. Fox also noted that despite the map, he has DN15 as attending HS-6, not John Champe.
Plan 6 was introduced by Thomas Reed (At Large) and is a synthesized plan based on parental input and walk-zones. Reed's plan keeps the Belmont Country Club within the gate at Stone Bridge, while moving DN10.2 to HS-8. It also leaves part of Broadlands at Briar Woods, placing some portions at Broad Run and HS-6, while splitting Brambleton into Briar Woods and HS-6. Broad Run's sheer square mileage is decreasing, leaving Discovery Elementary to feed into Stone Hill and HS-6 and Steuart W. Weller to feed into Belmont Ridge and HS-8.
Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) proposed Plan 5, one of the more controversial plans. Designed with input from a group of Brambleton parents, Plan 5 keeps all of Brambleton at Briar Woods while moving the Broadlands to Stone Bridge, Briar Woods or HS-6.
“The feedback that I've been getting from the community is a feeling that Briar Woods is within the community of Brambleton and that the amount of support that the HOA has offered this school and the community, this was a sincere desire from that community,” Turgeon said.
Plan 5 also has all of Belmont Country Club at HS-8.
Much of the debate during the public hearing portion focused on Policy 2-32, which states that facilities, proximity, community and demographics are the initial considerations for adopted attendance zones.
Homeowners Associations, especially Ashburn Village, Ashburn Farm and Brambleton cited community when voicing their displeasure at plans that split their respective HOAs.
But the April 4 hearing offered dissension.
“Who declared HOA as the definition of community? This definition makes people feel entitled to a school,” Ashburn resident Tracy Bongianino said.
Many parents expressed concern that the HOAs were being kept together at the expense of forcing them to travel longer distances to schools.
“We keep hearing HOA as the definition of community and it's really hurting the process at times,” parent and Ashburn resident Ruth Kapusta said. “Using HOA as the definition of community throws proximity out the window.”
With close to 100 speakers, April 4's public hearing proved to be one of the longest yet, exceeding more than three hours as area parents jumped at an opportunity to voice their grievances.
The School Board will issue attendance zone recommendations at its April 9 meeting. There will be a final public hearing April 15 before the School Board formally adopts new attendance zones at the April 23 meeting.