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Loudoun School Board adopts names for four new schools, considers improvements for transportation

The Loudoun County School Board adopted names for four new schools—one elementary school (ES-28), one middle school (MS-7), and two high schools (HS-9 and HS-11)—at its meeting Tuesday night.

The naming committees appointed by the School Board proposed recommended names for each school, along with two alternates. The board moved to adopt the recommended names: Goshen Post Elementary School, to be located adjacent to John Champe High School; Willard Middle School, off Braddock Road in Aldie; Lightridge High School, to be located off Lightridge Farm Road in Aldie, and Independence High School which will be adjacent to Brambleton Middle School.

Representatives from the different naming committees have been present at recent School Board meetings to advocate for their recommended names.

On Tuesday, Larry Roeder spoke to the board about the recommended name for MS-7, Willard Middle School. Roeder is chair of research at the Black History Committee at Friends of Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, and principal investigator for the Edwin Washington Project, a nonprofit dedicated to analyzing segregated Loudoun County schools from 1846 to 1967. There has already been a Willard school in a village of the same name, Roeder explained, and there are still living community members who either attended that school or whose parents attended. However, the land where the village of Willard was located was bought for the construction of Dulles Airport. The school, and the village, is gone, and Roeder argued that naming MS-7 would acknowledge that history.

The motion to adopt the recommended school names passed 8-1, with Leesburg District representative Tom Marshall opposed. Marshall had been in support of using Fred E. Drummond Jr.’s name for HS-11. Drummond, who passed away earlier this year, was a longtime educator in Loudoun County as a teacher and administrator and carried his schools, students and their parents through integration in the 50s. Though the School Board did not adopt his name for the high school, they will likely name another school after Drummond in the future.

Goshen Post Elementary School and Willard Middle School are scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. Independence High School will open in the fall of 2019, and Lightridge High School is scheduled to open in fall 2020.

With new schools come new attendance zones. The School Board has already adopted new attendance zones for Brambleton Middle School and HS-11 (now Independence High School), and this affects a small group of students rezoned to attend Broad Run High School, Riverside High School, Rock Ridge High School or Stone Bridge High School. The School Board unanimously moved to adopt an early attendance plan for the rising 9th graders who would have to transition to different high schools for their 10th grade year in 2018, when the new attendance zones take affect. The eligible students and their families will be surveyed as to whether they would prefer to attend their assigned high school one year early, fall 2017, so they would not have to change schools for 10th grade in 2018. If so, parents and guardians would then be responsible for transportation of any early attendance approved students to and from school for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The main information item the School Board discussed during its meeting Tuesday concerned school transportation efficiency, with the LCPS Division of Transportation Services proposing plans for improving transportation services, such as reducing bus run times and second loads, and consolidation of bus stops.

Coincidentally, a truck tried and failed to pass a LCPS school bus on a narrow road in Lovettsville Tuesday morning. The incident came up during the transportation discussion, raising questions like whether a school bus should even be on a road that narrow, and what the solution would be if not. There were also concerns about how bus stops would be consolidated, how students would get to those new bus stops, and whether their parents could legally park near those bus stops. These had been concerns with past transportation efficiency efforts both in the eastern and western parts of the county. After the Lovettsville truck, these concerns were made even more relevant. The School Board will move on the proposed transportation improvements during its next meeting.


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