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Parents seek clarification on Aldie Elementary zoning

Parent Meredith Muller is cautiously optimistic.

With children attending Aldie Elementary, Muller doesn't want her kids bused 10 plus miles away into the Dulles South area to attend school.
But there may be hope – even if it's only a glimmer.

Muller recently asked the School Board for clarification that should Aldie Elementary School close, could it feasibly reopen in two years?

“We can show the School Board that it could feasibly be done to expand our property,” she said.

Muller is relying on what could be a loophole.

A small portion of Aldie Elementary sits in a flood plain. This caused the school to be grandfathered into some zoning regulations.

“We were concerned that if we were closed, we would lose those grandfathered provisions. After a conversation with the zoning department, it was recommended that we get a formal determination,” Muller said. “ What gave us the red flag to get this determination was a conversation between a parent of our school, Cade Clark and Chairman Hornberger and Bill Fox. They had said that if a school was shut down that it could be reopened in the future.”

A historic building that sits behind the school, once used for class space in the 1970's and early 80's and now for storage, sits directly in the flood plain.

“I think that we have a very compelling argument not to close the school. We're in a growth area. We have a group of parents who have gone from builder to builder to get growth projections,” Muller said.

The School Board recently ruled to consider the closure of four western Loudoun schools individually, instead of either closing them all or leaving them all open.

More growth, less space

Members of the Aldie Elementary School are fighting hard to keep their school open in the face of a large budget gap.

Several community members and county residents feel the current growth tract of the area and feasibility of the school more than warrant keeping the school open.

In a letter drafted to parents of students at Aldie, Hamilton, Hillsboro and Lincoln Elementary Schools, LCPS outlined the likely destinations for students should those schools be closed.

Aldie students would be rezoned to attend either Arcola or Buffalo Trail elementary schools. Students currently at Hillsboro would be reassigned to Mountain View Elementary and students at Hamilton and Lincoln would attend Kenneth Culbert.

Karen Kovacs, a community advocate for Aldie Elementary School, notes that there are several reasons why Aldie should not be closed, but instead expanded.
“First and foremost, the average cost per pupil at Aldie Elementary, $11,090, is below the LCPS average pupil cost of $11,638. Accordingly, an Aldie Elementary student is not costing taxpayers any more money than any other Loudoun student,” Kovacs said. “Second Aldie Elementary is located in suburban southern Loudoun with a significant amount of new home development.”

Kovacs went on to say Aldie is almost at capacity right now with its 131 students. It's projected to have 141 students next school year.

According to Kovacs, with the students being reassigned to Arcola and Buffalo Trail, those schools will become overcrowded. That would force the construction of ES-28 to be moved up to accommodate the overcrowding of students in the Dulles South area.

Kevin Engel, a resident of Leesburg, also cites cost per pupil and argues that the school is projected to be at or over capacity until 2020 as it stands.
He feels Aldie's status as a growing area of Loudoun County would be severely hindered by the closing of Aldie.

“That's effective usage, for a school that is embraced by its community and provides a good central location that's consistent with LCPS priorities,” Engel said. “Aldie in particular serves a still-growing area and projected attendance at the nearby schools does not leave sufficient space to handle Aldie's current students along with planned growth.”

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

Managing Editor Crystal Owens contributed to this report.


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