Friday, June 17, 2011

FCPS staff presents recommendations on Annandale Regional Study

The new school at the Lacy site.
The Fairfax County staff recommendation on the Annandale Regional Study, released June 16, is likely to please some parents and upset others.

The Sleepy Hollow Woods community, for example, should be pleased that its students will  remain assigned to Glasgow Middle School and Stuart High School. Beech Tree Elementary School students would continue to feed into Glasgow and Stuart, and the Parklawn Elementary School split feeder would remain at Annandale High School.

Among other recommendations likely to be received favorably: The Advanced Academic Program would remain at Glasgow, and there would be generous “grandfathering” provisions allowing some students to stay at their current school.

“At the same time, I know there will be serious disappointment for some under this recommendation,” said school board member Sandy Evans, who represents most of he areas affected by the boundary changes.
For example, Evans said:
  • High school students who live in the Bren Mark Park Elementary School area would be reassigned to Edison High School.
  • High school students in the Wakefield Forest Elementary School area that now attend Annandale High School (AHS) would be reassigned to Woodson.
  • The Columbia Pines neighborhood would be assigned to Poe Middle School and Falls Church High School, while their neighbors in Sleepy Hollow Woods would go to Glasgow and Stuart.
  • Students at Annandale Terrace Elementary School who live north of Route 236 would be split among the new school at Lacey and Woodburn Elementary School, while all of the Woodburn “island” would be reassigned to the new school.
The creation of uneven split feeder at the new school on the Lacey site is also problematic.

“We will need to work to make sure that all of our schools remain strong after any changes,” Evans says, “and I know several school communities (including AHS, Belvedere, and Beech Tree) have concerns about this that need to be addressed.”

The staff recommendation, based proposals from a community study committee and input from affected parents, readjusts the attendance areas and/or feeder patterns at 16 area elementary, middle, and high schools in order to relieve overcrowding at Annandale High School and determine which areas will be served by the new elementary school.

The staff recommendations will be presented to the school board June 23. A final plan, to be voted on by the board July 28, will take effect for the 2012-13 school year. You can access the report here under “new business.” Hearings are scheduled for July 11 and 12. To sign up to speak, you can register online or call 571/423-1075.

The new elementary school

The FCPS staff recommendation calls for the new elementary school, under construction on the site of the former Lacey school administration center, to have grades K-5. Its attendance area generally follows Option 2, which was among the four options considered by the committee. It would include the following:

From Annandale Terrace Elementary—The area between Hummer Road and Annandale Road, north of Royce Street, generally including Woolfenden, Galanis Woods, Annawood, Ramblewood, Moore and Keith, and the Trinity Estates subdivisions.

From Beech Tree Elementary—The area south of Homes Run including Broyhill Crest, Kenwood, Rolf Heights, and Annandale Mews subdivisions.

From Belvedere Elementary—The area west of Sleepy Hollow Road including Sleepy Hollow Woods, Overlook Knolls, and Columbia Pines subdivisions.

From Woodburn Elementary—Parliament Village Apartments and the area between Annandale Road and Gallows Road including Kenwood, Beverly Manor, Chatelain Village, Annandale Gardens, and Annandale subdivisions; also areas southeast of Annandale Road including Kimberly Hill, Masonville Heights, State Hill, State Crest Woods, Annandale Woods, Round Tree Park, and State Hill Woods subdivisions.

The new school is projected to open with 475 students in the 2012-13 school year, growing to 557 by 2016-17. Forty-five percent of its enrollment is expected to consist of English language learners and 45.7 percent of its students would be eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

The report suggests a 6th grade could be added in the future, which would allow the school to feed to Jackson Middle School if that school has available capacity.

A split feeder would be established at the new school on the Lacey site, with approximately 85 percent of its students moving on to Poe Middle School and Falls Church High School and 15 percent going to Glasgow Middle School and Stuart High School.
This proposal is counter to one of the guiding principles of the boundary study, which said split feeders to be avoided and, if they can’t be avoided, called for relatively equal proportions of students be divided among middle schools.

Other elementary schools

From Annandale Terrace Elementary to Woodburn Elementary—The area between Hummer Road and Annandale Road, south of Royce Street including Marguerite and Perrel, Rainbow Glen, Hummer Woods Estates, Woodland Place, and Fairmont Gardens subdivisions.

From Pine Spring Elementary to Beech Tree Elementary—The area west of Tripps Run and East of Marshall Street, including City Park Homes subdivision.
The staff recommendation would eliminate the attendance islands for Woodburn and Pine Spring and would eliminate the current middle and high school split feeders for Belvedere and Beech Tree.

The report does not recommend any boundary changes for Bren Mar Park Elementary School. That means students in the western section of that school’s attendance area won’t be reassigned to North Springfield Elementary.

Middle schools

From Poe to Frost—The portion of the Wakefield Forest Elementary attendance area that is west of I-495 and generally east of Wakefield Chapel Road.
From Poe to Holmes—All of the Bren Mar Park Elementary attendance area.

From Poe to Jackson—The area between Hummer Road and Annandale Road, south of Royce Street including Marguerite and Perrel, Rainbow Glen, Hummer Woods Estates, Woodland Place, and Fairmont Gardens subdivisions (grades 7 and 8 only; grade 6 will be assigned to Woodburn Elementary School).
From Jackson to Glasgow—The area west of Tripps Run and east of Marshall Street including City Park Homes (includes 6th grade from Pine Spring Elementary). This corresponds with the Pine Spring

Elementary attendance island being reassigned to Beech Tree Elementary School.

From Jackson to Poe—Parliament Village Apartments plus the area between Annandale Road and Gallows Road, including Kenwood, Beverly Manor, Chatelain Village, Annandale Gardens, and Annandale subdivisions; also areas southeast of Annandale Road including Kimberly Hill, Masonville Heights, State Hill, State Crest Woods, Annandale Woods, Round Tree Park and State Hill Woods subdivisions (includes grade 6 from Woodburn Elementary School).

The staff recommendation would eliminate the current split feeder for Wakefield Forest Elementary (which currently sends half of its 6th grade students to Poe Middle School at 7th grade) and the non-contiguous boundary for Holmes Middle School.

To accommodate the proposed changes, a temporary modular unit with six to eight rooms is recommended for Frost Middle School as a temporary measure until the school is renovated in six or seven years.
High schools

From Annandale to Woodson—The eastern half of the Wakefield Forest Elementary attendance area, generally west of the beltway and east of Wakefield Chapel Road. This would eliminate the the Wakefield Forest split feeder and would utilize available capacity at Woodson.

From Annandale to Edison—The Bren Mar Park Elementary attendance area.

From Falls Church to Stuart—The area west of Tripps Run and east of Marshall Street including City Park Homes. This corresponds with the Pine Spring Elementary attendance island being reassigned to Beech Tree Elementary School.

Grandfathering

The proposed boundary change would reassign approximately 121 students out of Annandale High School in the 2012-13 school year. That would increase to to 441 students in 2016-17. This reflects a gradual phase-in of the boundary change beginning with incoming 9th grade students in the school year 2012-13.

Several “grandfathering” proposals should please parents and students concerned about being yanked out of their school.

There would be full grandfathering at Annandale High School for all students who have entered AHS by fall 2011, so no one would have to switch after making the transition to high school. High school changes would start with rising 9th graders in fall 2012.
There would also be full grandfathering for all middle school students who have entered their middle school by fall 2011, so in fall 2012 both rising 7th and 8th graders at middle schools with grades 6-8 would remain at their current school. Middle school changes would start with rising 6th graders in fall 2012.

Elementary students who are entering the top grade at their school in fall 2012 (rising 5th graders at K-5 schools and rising 6th graders at K-6 schools) would be allowed to finish at their current school. Students who choose being grandfathered at their current schools would receive transportation.

AAP centers

Parents who have been extremely vocal about their opposition to moving the Advanced Academic Program (AAP) out of Glasgow Middle Schools should be pleased to hear that the staff recommends keeping it there.

Annandale Terrace and Woodburn Elementary students assigned to the new elementary school at the Lacey site would attend AAP centers at Belvedere Elementary and Glasgow Middle schools.

Students reassigned from Annandale Terrace to Woodburn Elementary School would attend AAP centers at Mantua elementary and Jackson middle schools. Students reassigned from Pine Spring to Beech Tree would attend AAP centers at Belvedere and Glasgow.

Community opinion

According to the staff report, most people who submitted feedback forms on the preliminary report that presented four options favored Option 1, which called for moving the fewest number of students.

Thirty-three percent of respondents preferred Option 1, 31.5 percent favored Option 4 (the non-boundary option), 29.6 percent preferred Option 2 (which focused on eliminating split feeders and attendance islands), and 10.7 percent preferred Option 3 (which focused on changing K-5 schools to K-6).

The school system staff rejected a non-boundary solution because it would have resulted in the greatest number of students being moved, required building modifications at Holmes and Poe, created logistical problems around courses and programs, and required 12 additional buses to transport students who currently walk to school.

7 comments:

  1. This is concerning the Columbia Pines neighborhood.

    They are already attending Poe and Falls Church High School because of the change that occurred when moving people out of Annandale High School a few years ago. They only share the elementary school with Sleepy Hollow Woods.

    They are also neighbors of Broyhill Crest Community and attend the same middle and high school as Broyhill Crest. This will now align them with Broyhill Crest from the elementary level all the way to high school.

    So far some of the kids I have talked to that now go to Falls Church H.s. have been happy with their experience there.

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  2. Applause for the FCPS staff. In a situation that offered no options for making everybody happy, staff crafted an option that looks to the future, balances enrollments, and is disruptive to the least number of people possible while still decisively addressing the overcrowding at Annandale High. The favorable grandfathering policy was a nice touch, and certainly more generous than I think most anticipated it would be. All-in-all, some people are going to be disappointed, but looking at the big picture I think staff did about as well as they possibly could with the cards they were dealt.

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  3. Applause for the FCPS staff is such a blatant pat on the back BY FCPS staff as to be sickening.
    What the plans and final recommendation say is that FCPS has once again not been able to plan its way out of a paper bag and is subject neighborhoods to the chopping block due to their inability to plan.
    We see neighborhoods and schools on the chopping block, change for the sake of change and real problems not being solved - just more kicking the can down the road.
    Hope everyone is prepared to push button for a new School Board in November, as this current block of individuals serves Jack Dale & his staff, not us.

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  4. This is a good solution for WFES and aligns with what the majority of the community was seeking. But its pretty crummy for Bren Mar. Ship them to a new middle school; create a brand-new split feeder at that middle school (isnt' *reduction* of split-feeders a goal?), then ship them out of the county and across the Beltway to a high school in a completely different cluster as the only outsiders to a cohort that matriculated together through Twain. Edison is so far away, Facilities couldn't even fit it on the map they provided to show the changes. And what does Bren Mar get as the reward for "fixing" Annandale and Poe's overcrowding and Holmes' and Edison's undercrowding? Nothing, zero, nada to address overcrowding at Bren Mar which will be at 150%. Balanced elementary enrollment? Uh, no.

    It's like Facilities took all the recommendations and principles articulated by the Ad Hoc Committee and did the opposite to Bren Mar. They knew what they were going to do all along (just like Clifton), and just went through the motions of community involvment to avoid the backlash.

    And then they'll come to us in the fall and ask us to pay 84 million to renovate TJ.

    Good luck with that.

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  5. This is a terrible outcome for Belvedere Elementary, and am very disappointed in Sandy Evans. Losing Columbia Pines and Sleepy Hollow Woods will decimate the parent volunteers at Belvedere.

    Incidentally, keeping Columbia Pines and Sleepy Hollow Woods together seems to only be a priority if it means assigning CP to Glasgow (already predicted to be overcrowded, so I'm not sure how anyone is going to justify this) and Stuart. Suggest assigning SHW to Poe/Falls Church because they're "one neighborhood," and there will be a very different reaction from SHW.

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  6. CP already goes to Poe/Falls Church. With this move, CP only moves from the elementary school. If SHW has their way, CP would have a new elementary, middle, and high school.

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  7. Why is the county proposing a split feeder at the new school? Isnt that going to lead to problems down the road?

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