The Loudoun County School Board voted June 11 to allow students who will be redistricted from Broad Run to Stone Bridge in the fall of 2015 to head to their new school early.
In an 8-1 decision, with Debbie Rose (Catoctin) as the lone dissenter, the Board enacted a measure to allow eligible high school students from DNs 15, 15.1, 16 and 18 to attend Stone Bridge beginning in fall of 2014. According to staff reports, 57 students would be eligible.
Sam Adamo, director of planning and legislative services, and his staff predict Broad Run will be around 32 percent over capacity in the fall of 2014, with 1,931 students. Broad Run's current core capacity is listed as around 1,400.
While Stone Bridge will also be at capacity with a projected enrollment of 1780, Adamo said that as a newer facility, Stone Bridge is better able to handle the additional students.
“We've had higher enrollments at before at Stone Bridge, so we're confident they'll be able to handle it,” Adamo said.
Rose's criticism stemmed from concern that allowing kids to change schools with the new open enrollment policy gave some students special treatment.
"I don't want to engage in a 'some get it and some don't'. This doesn't seem like it's being applied fairly,” Rose said. "I feel uncomfortable allowing it for one small section."
Other School Board members argued that the decision had nothing to do with favoritism; rather, it was a practical way to relieve overcrowding.
"This is not a matter of playing favorites, this is good public policy and that's why I support it,” said Bill Fox (Leesburg).
Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) also noted that when the new boundaries all take effect in 2015, these students will be the only ones changing from one school to an already existing school.
Some debate centered around whether or not to provide transportation to the students.
Several Board members were concerned about whatever cost could possibly be associated with the extra transportation, though Adamo stated it could be done with minimal cost and that some students could utilize already existing bus routes.
Fox felt that transportation should be provided to encourage students to make the switch.
"It's trying to incentivize maximum participation in the early enrollment,” Fox said.
Thomas Reed (at-large) moved to add an amendment that states transportation may or may not be provided. The amendment passed 7-2, with Fox and Rose opposing.