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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seven Corners Task Force urged to consider need for new schools

Students head into Bailey's Elementary School.
Schools are “change agents” that can spur community revitalization and business investment, Dan Parris, Fairfax County Public Schools assistant superintendent for Cluster 3, told the Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force April 9.

Parris urged the task force to incorporate new school facilities into the revitalization plan for Seven Corners because the area is experiencing “vast growth in population” and existing schools are overcrowded.

According to Parris, FCPS has identified the need at least one and possibly two new elementary schools in the Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners area—to provide seats for 898 elementary students over the next five years.

A major challenge, though, is finding the land for new schools. An earlier proposal to build a new elementary school on the grounds of Glasgow Middle School has been dropped, Parris said.

Both Bailey’s Elementary School and Glen Forest Elementary, the schools closest to the Seven Corners revitalization area, are severely overcrowded and don’t have any room to add more modular units or trailers.

Modular classrooms at Bailey's Elementary.
By 2017-18, Bailey’s will be 160 percent over capacity, and Glen Forest will be 128 percent over capacity, Parris said. Adjusting the boundaries won’t help, because the other schools in the area (such as Sleepy Hollow, Parklawn, Westlawn, and Columbia) will also be overcapacity in five years.

Glasgow Middle School is projected to be 119 percent over capacity, and Stuart High School will be 128 percent over capacity in five years.

Without any land readily available, Parris suggested several innovative solutions, such as retrofitting a commercial building as a school; providing a facility that combines a school with county uses; looking at new partnerships, such as a combined elementary/middle school model; and building a multistory school on a smaller lot.

Fitting a school onto a three-acre site, when most school sites are generally five acres, means “you need to go up rather than out,” Parris said.

Kevin Sneed, director of design and construction services at FCPS, described a hypothetical five-story urban model for an elementary school serving about 1,000 students that is being considered for Tysons. Common areas would be on the ground floor with classrooms on the upper floors. The plan would include an above-ground parking structure.

Another model designed by Sneed’s office is a three-story, 750-student elementary school on four acres that incorporates community uses, such as a shared school/public library, health clinic, social services, and community meeting rooms. This concept would work well in Seven Corners, which has a need for these kinds of services, he said.  

According to Parris a school in the Seven Corners area will need special programs, such as preschool education, to meet the needs of the local population. Sixty-five percent of the students at Bailey’s are eligible for free or reduced-prices lunches, and 62 percent are English language learners. At Glen Forest, those percentages are 74 and 66, respectively.

Whether the Willston Cultural Center could revert to its original purpose as a school is still very much up in the air. Parris indicated it’s not currently under consideration as the building is owned by Fairfax County, not FCPS.

At the next Seven Corners Task Force meeting, May 14, tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Mason Government Center, there will be an opportunity for public comment. All of the task force’s monthly meetings are open to the public, but the group only allows non-members to speak at every third meeting.

That meeting will include presentations on mixed-use development and the form-based zoning concept. The task force will also take a bus tour of Seven Corners in May. At the June 11 meeting, the group will begin to identify planning and urban design principles for Seven Corners, and on June 27, the group will have a “design charette,” an intensive, multi-hour session aimed at coming up with a land use and vision concept.

Task Force chair John Thillman said the work will likely continue for another year. He expects the task force will submit a final plan to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in spring 2014.

15 comments:

  1. A large part of the problem with the overcrowding appears to be related to people who are here illegally, not paying taxes, sending their children to our schools for free. This trend cannot continue. As long as it does, there will never be enough schools. More and more people will keep taking advantage of this free perk on the backs of the Fairfax County taxpayers.

    I think that we would not have as many illegals, if they knew that they could not send their kids to school for free.

    I wish there was a way that we as taxpayers could sue the county for making us pay for all of this at the detriment of our community. The county knows what is going on, and is looking the other way.

    I know many will think that this stance is cruel, but look at the taxes we pay and look at what a dump most of Mason District is. Something has to be done. If you care about your country and your investment in your community, then you should think hard about what is happening around you.

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    1. Absolutely SPOT ON! Good for you. I am sick of the situation and as a tax payer and parent of kids crowded in all the schools mentioned - IT OFFENDS ME to NO END that I HAVE TO SHELL OUT MY HARD EARNED MONEY for these people's kids. I could care less about the "oh we have to educate everyone" argument. That aregument isn't flying for me. Preposterous doesnt make sense. If too many people are abusing the system - we need to do something. They should pay a fine or something - I dont know. But to act like its our duty -? These guys dont volunteer to help and they are take take taking and using every bit of our resources.

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    2. It is unfortunate that you have such a low value of children who appear to be illegal in Fairfax Co. Dont you realize that 99 percent of these children are born in our country and in fact are the future for Fairfax County? They are citizens and deserve every benefit as you or your child.

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    3. The county is not only looking the other way but attempting to steal library bond funds for these expansions.

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    4. What a lot of nonsense. You claim that those you call illegal dont pay taxes - how do you figure that? Every time they buy something, they pay (Fairfax County) sales tax. Those that own homes and cars pay property tax. Every time they fill the tank with gas they pay excise and road tax. And everyone that has a paycheck job pays federal and state tax. How does an "illegal" immigrant get a free ride on taxes? Please tell me, because I will claim to be an "illegal" immigrant to get the same tax-free lifestyle.

      Okay, maybe you say they hang out at the 7-11 for off-the-books day labor. And maybe some do. But plenty of red-blooded Americans work off-the-books and pay little or no income taxes. (My all-American barber was one for many years, and often bragged about it to me.) But there's no escaping sales and property tax, which is where education is funded.

      What a load of hogwash. Of course they pay taxes - how can you possibly avoid paying taxes?

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  2. The commenter states: I think that we would not have as many illegals if they knew that they could not send their kids to school for free. So U.S.-born children should not be allowed free public education, just because of their parents' illegal status? Preposterous.

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    1. The parents know that if they have an anchor baby that they will be given preferential treatment. The laws should be rewritten to only give citizenship to babies who are born to people who are in our country legally, whether as citizens or on a visa, etc. Until this loophole is closed, people will continue to use their children as the reason that they should be allowed to stay in our country (hence the term "anchor baby"). What do you think happens to someone who is here on a visa and has a child? When their visa is up they have to leave the country with or without their child who is a citizen. Because they are doing things right and have a paper trail, they have to leave. Why should we allow those who are abusing the system to stay? It should be no different. Your child is a citizen, but you are not. Decide whether they go back with you or stay. We cannot continue this open door policy. You are very naïve, if you do not think that they know how to work the system. I will send their tax bill to you.

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  3. *undocumented, not illegal

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  4. Give me a break with "undocumented" you are here illegally you are illegal. I agree that we need to stand up and say enough is enough.

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  5. ILLEGAl is the word. The future - yes - they are sadly the future. Cramed in apartments all day watching TV and eating fast food and getting overweight. Then - put into the educational system draining things and the social services. Sad future to me.

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  6. Wow, sounds like you personally know a lot of these families and their lifestyles (sarcasm). Families are all trying their best to raise their children the best way that they can. Why do you think they left behind their home countries and everything that they know and are comfortable with to come to a strange, new land? For the same reason people have been coming to our country for hundreds of years...to have a better future for themselves and their children. Even your ancestors (or you) did the same thing! Why are you begrudging this cohort?

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  7. Are you serious?! We are a nation of LAWS.
    If we just let the whole world come here without proper law, we lose the integrity of the nation. My parents came here legally, followed the system, respected the laws, paid the fees, and we are contributing citizens of society. We appreciate what we earned. I personally know some families who came here illegally and it is a shame on how they know the system and abuse it. It is the people who have accepted the status quo of "they are just looking for a better life, they are immigrants too" that doesn't understand how there is more of a negative effect for ALL of us. It is a slap to the face of all the law abiding true immigrants this nation was founded on. Seriously, this is common sense. Enforce the laws, and serve the citizens of this country

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    1. AMEN - I see Supervisor Gross can write a letter about the stupid collection boxes - but does NOTHING to take action on the other more pressing concerns like overcrowded schools and people taking advantage of a system that was I'm sure set up with good intensions. But now, the same folks they think they are helping - they are just continuing the culture of poverty among these folks. I would not be so mad - had they not moved into the neighborhoods and constructed ugly eyesores - filled with tons of illegals and having kids every other minute -overcrowded our school (taking food / clothing bags every day.) Sad.

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  8. We are a nation of FREEDOMS. Freedoms that allow people to learn, grow, and become contributing members of society. A country needs an educated population to survive and flourish. It is as simple as that. We are not going to kick kids out of school. You are assuming all the problems stemming from overcrowding are from undocumented families. This is small minded, and wrong. So, let's work to help the situation, not just complain.

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    1. We area a free nation, under the Constitution and laws. Freedom does not mean do whatever you want. With freedom comes personal responsibility, and consequences for actions that are not for good. So, we that said, we have proper Immigration laws that are for ALL people to follow. Some people chose to break the law, so why do law-abiding immigrants and citizens have to suffer for it?? Common sense

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