Following the establishment of school attendance zone boundaries for Waxpool Elementary School in Ashburn, the Loudoun County School Board has opened an abbreviated attendance zone change process for the secondary schools of three planning zones in the Dulles North area.
Students in planning zones DN45, DN45.2, and DN45.3 will attend Mill Run Elementary come fall instead of Moorefield Station. The abbreviated secondary school attendance zone change would align the students in the three planning zones to Eagle Ridge Middle School and Briar Woods High School with the rest of the Mill Run students, rather than Stone Hill Middle School and Rock Ridge High School.
The board held a public hearing on the attendance zone change during its Tuesday meeting. The board weighed delaying the implementation of the cluster alignment to fall 2020, but of the elementary school parents to speak before the board, some spoke against a delayed implementation.
“This would bring final, stable school assignments for our students,” Brooke Mitchell said.
However, some current Rock Ridge students and parents of Rock Ridge and Stone Hill students spoke against the abbreviated process, saying cluster alignment should not come at the expense of the students who have already adjusted to Stone Hill and Rock Ridge.
Beth Huck (At-Large) made a motion to open the abbreviated process, but also to survey all current Rock Ridge students, grandfather those who would want to stay and provide them with transportation. She said after hearing the concerns from the public hearing, this was the best option for all involved.
“We’re trying to rip off the band-aid but allow for those who have already invested in their high school at Rock Ridge to remain there,” Huck said.
Hornberger expressed concern over providing transportation because it goes beyond School Board policy and would set a precedent.
After some discussion, the board split the question into three motions — one to vote on the new attendance zone going into effect in fall 2019, one on the grandfathering of students and one on providing transportation for the grandfathered students.
The board voted unanimously, with Joy Maloney (Broad Run District) calling in to participate in the discussion, to cluster align for the fall 2019 school year.
On the issue of surveying current Rock Ridge students in DN45, DN45.2, and DN45.3 with the intent to grandfather them and provide them with transportation to Rock Ridge, Huck said she knows the board does not stray from policy often, but by voting in favor of both measures, the board would give students stability.
LCPS staff said there would be no way to know the cost of providing transportation without first seeing how many of the surveyed students would want to stay at Rock Ridge. LCPS staff also told the board that there is precedent of surveying rising tenth graders, but not provide them with transportation.
Hornberger questioned why survey the students without knowing if transportation could be provided and said families who want to stay at Rock Ridge could utilize special permission. The board ultimately voted in favor of surveying students for the purpose of grandfathering in a 7-2 vote with Hornberger and Debbie Rose (Algonkian District) opposed.
The board voted against providing transportation for all grandfathered students in a 3-6 vote, with only Maloney, Huck and Tom Marshall (Leesburg District) in favor.