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Monday, June 23, 2014

New school needed to accommodate Seven Corners redevelopment

The redevelopment of Seven Corners, as proposed by the SevenCorners Land Use and Transportation Task Force, would require the construction of a new elementary school, confirms Jeffrey Platenberg, Fairfax County Public Schools assistant superintendent for facilities and Transportation Services, in a June 23 memo.

The task force plan calls for 6,000 new residential units throughout the Seven Corners Planning Area. A project already in the planning stages for the Sears site on Leesburg Pike would have about 800 units.

School overcrowding issues, along with traffic concerns, is expected to be a major issue of concern at a meeting of the Seven Corners Task Force tonight open for public comment. The meeting is at the Mason District Government Center, 7 p.m.

The Sears project would primarily affect Sleepy Hollow Elementary School, Glasgow Middle School, and Stuart High School, and to a lesser extent, Beech Tree Elementary School, Platenberg states.

A review by FCPS facilities planning coordinator Ajay Rawat in April projects that by 2018-19, Stuart will be over capacity by 520 students, Glasgow by 278, and Sleepy Hollow by 24 students. Glen Forest Elementary School, which is already 122 students over capacity will be 323 students over capacity by 2018-19.

Severe overcrowding at Bailey’s Elementary School is being relieved by the new Bailey’s Upper Elementary School, which is serving grades 3-5, leaving grades K-2 in the original Bailey’s ES. Platenberg’s memo doesn’t mention Bailey’s Upper Elementary, although it’s next door to the Sears site.

“FCPS is currently working with the county to evaluate the impact of the planned residential development on the school system and provide recommendations regarding school facilities,” Platenberg states. “Preliminarily, FCPS anticipates the need for a new elementary school, additions to existing schools, and possible programming changes to accommodate the anticipated growth.”

When a residential development proposal is initiated for rezoning, FCPS would carry out additional analyses and make recommendations on school facilities, Platenberg continues. “FCPS, with the support of the county, will look to developers for contributions to mitigate the impacts of their development,” he says. “Such contributions may include land dedication for future school facilities and/or proffer fund contributions to be used in the construction/capacity enhancements of school facilities.”

According to Rawat’s analysis, if the Seven Corners revitalization area were rezoned and redeveloped to the full potential as proposed by the task force, there would be about 538 additional students.

That number is based on the countywide student yield ratio, which Rawat acknowledges underestimates the number of students residing in aging multifamily communities. As multifamily communities age and housing becomes more affordable, the population of school-age children tends to rise.  

Looking at the county’s yield ratio, “developers may see that their proposals are not generating an increase in student yields,” Rawat says. “However, FCPS believes that it is unknown how redevelopment will affect anticipated student yields over time and some proffer contributions should be made to offset the potential impact of development, especially in areas where the schools and other surrounding schools are over capacity or projected to be over capacity.”


  1. I don't want to see a school built until county officials get off their collective asses and address the problem(s) that are causing the overcrowded schools. How about enforcing zoning laws, immigration laws, provide better parental education stressing financial responsibility (if you can't afford one child don't have 3...with a large % on free/reduced lunch who ultimately pays for this , find a better way to check addresses of students, and in Bailey's case eliminate bringing in approximately 300 out of boundary students.

    Anyone believing the developer is going to flip the bill for a new school built or that a new school is the solution to overcrowding is kidding themselves.

    The rally cry is let's build another school. I say BS. How long will it be until any new school built is overcrowded when the county fails to do anything? Bailey's Elementary will be back to trailers and/or looking for another office building. How long before Sleepy Hollow Elementary is adding trailers after the creation of Upper Culmore. This has wash, rinse, repeat all over it. These "experts" trying to predict enrollment at schools make me laugh. Double what they say, read the news or stand in front of the school to get a good sense of where student population numbers in this area are going. On a side note, I am always amused how Sleepy Hollow seems to maintain enrollment around 500 yet Bailey's explodes upwards of 1300, yet separated by only a little over 2 miles?

    Add to the mix the county wants to build more apartments and townhouses. They want you believe and picture that any new housing will be occupied by professionals, a Clarendon type environment... Yeah, right, the question is how long before these units are occupied with multi-families placing an even greater burden on the schools, increasing traffic, etc.. eventually eroding property values. Again, this will become Upper Culmore in time...right next to Upper Bailey's. Calling for new schools to be built shouldn't be the only thing being called for.

    As a taxpayer, I wish I could get excited and/or support any revitalization efforts, heaven knows the area from bailey's/culmore to Seven Corner's is in desperate need of it but right now it doesn't seem to promising.

    1. AMEN!!!

    2. Sleepy Hollow has, for the past two years, had grade three in trailers!

    3. its not up to the county to enforce immigration laws, and anyway those folks do work that apparently people need . Also its absurd to expect the county to tell people how many children to have to avoid building a school. as to how long it will be before the buildings become low rents, based on current market conditions I would say its 20 to 40 years at the earliest. Thats a long time to be collecting propety taxes before we need to actually build the school. OTOH if you think its earlier, you can increase the proffer on the new developments.

    4. Anonymous 2:39 -

      Certainly county officials can not tell people how many kids they can or should have, but they along with school officials could do a much better job of providing education for the community as a whole on a wide range of issues. I would be interested to know the demographics of who attends these local meetings throughout the county regarding school and housing issues.

      In a Washington Post article in 2012 Larry Bizette, a school system demographer, said "enrollment has been fed in part by high birthrates among minority county residents and a downturn in the housing market.

      Bizette said that the Hispanic birthrate is almost triple that of white non-Hispanics."

      That was in 2012, I would be surprised if these numbers have gone down. Even if the numbers stayed the same that is mind boggling when you think about it.

      The over population of students, especially at Bailey's is directly related to the birth rate in the Hispanic community, when you combine that with multi-families cramming into one unit, you will get a severely overpopulated school to the degree Bailey's is at. It isn't the single family homes in Sleepy Hollow, Ravenwood, Lake Barcroft causing the crowding explosion.

      Should the taxpayer sit back and expect nothing from county officials. How big of a school should be built if nothing is done to address the issues that are causing the overcrowding problems. You can't move forward until you address the problems that are causing the issue(s). Just forget about it seems to be the county way.

      In my humble opinion the changeover to any new housing becoming occupied with multi-families will be much sooner than 20-40years. This has all the makings to become Upper Culmore. Once you get units turn to multi-families the changeover will occur rapidly. Enforcement of zoning laws and compliance codes are non-existent at the moment.

  2. Very well stated. Enforcement of existing zoning laws and compliance codes is key to most problems in Mason.