The most noteworthy aspects of the staff report are the recommendations that the board consider a non-boundary solution to address overcrowding at the high school and to add more schools to the study.
The staff recommendations are based on a series of options presented to the school board Jan. 10 by the two Annandale Regional Planning Study Committees. One committee studied overcrowding and possible boundary solutions, and the other explored attendance areas for the new elementary school under construction on the Lacey site and considered whether that school should have grades K-5 or K-6.
The objective of yesterday’s work session was to agree on the “scope of the study,” not to discuss specific boundary changes.
The high school committee had proposed two non-boundary solutions that involve changing the grade configurations at Annandale High School and Poe and Holmes middle schools.
Under option 1a, Annandale would have grades 10-12, instead of 9-12, while one of the middle schools would have grades 6 and 7, and the other would have 8 and 9. Under option 1b, Annandale would have grades 10-12, and both middle schools would have grades 7-9, while all sixth-graders would be moved to elementary schools.
The staff report calls option 1a the most viable because it “could address overcrowding at Annandale High School with more moderate facilities costs and would keep student cohorts together from grades 6 through 12 without adjusting boundaries.” And because it would retain the K-5 elementary school model, it “avoids the cost and capacity implications associated with inserting a sixth grade into the overcrowded elementaries that feed into the Stuart and Annandale pyramids.”
According to an online survey of parents, 68.5 percent prefer a non-boundary solution to overcrowding at Annandale. Results from the parent feedback forms can be accessed from the Annandale Regional Planning Study page of the FCPS website.
The staff report also agrees with the committee’s recommendation to add Twain and Key middle schools to the scope of study, which initially included Annandale, Edison, Falls Church, Lee, Stuart, West Springfield, and Woodson high schools; Lake Braddock Secondary School; and Frost, Glasgow, Holmes, Jackson, and Poe middle schools. Since none of the scenarios presented by the committee involve West Springfield, the staff proposes dropping that school from the scope of study.
In addition, the report highlights some of the other conclusions by the committee:
- the need to establish a consistent grade configuration model (K-5 or K-6) throughout the county;
- the need to unite communities and eliminate split feeders;
- the need to avoid transporting students across major interstate highways; and
- the committee’s proposal that, if boundary changes are implemented, they begin with rising ninth-graders at Annandale, so current students would be allowed stay until they graduate.
The staff recommends adding North Springfield and Bren Mar Park elementary schools to the scope of the study, noting that “continued enrollment pressures at Bren Mar Park and projected capacity surplus at North Springfield should be reviewed as part of the overall goal of balancing enrollment in the region.”
The school board had initially limited the study to Annandale Terrace, Beech Tree, Belvedere, Braddock, Columbia, Sleepy Hollow, Westlawn, and Woodburn. The committee added Pine Spring Elementary.
The staff also notes that “the additional capacity provided by the new elementary school will not fully address the elementary school capacity deficit in the region. Additional recommendations for program and/or facilities modifications may also be included as part of the study.”
Here’s what happens next:
April 28 – the board takes action on the scope of study.
June 23 – the board takes up the boundary study as new business.
July 11 and 12 – public hearings.
July 18 – the board has an all-day work session on the boundary issue.July 28 – the board votes on a final plan.
The new boundary plan takes effect for the start of the 2012 school year, when the new elementary school is scheduled to open.