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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Growth in public school enrollment slowing down

A modular unit is proposed to relieve overcrowding at Glasgow Middle School.
The soaring enrollment growth in Fairfax County Public Schools in recent years is slowing down, reports the Capital Improvement Program for 2018-22 approved by the school board Jan. 26.

Since the 2008-09 school year, FCPS has seen an average increase of 2,400 students every year, for a total increase of more than 21,000. This year, the CIP states, enrollment grew by just 1,386 students from the previous year. That is “one of the smallest membership increases FCPS has experienced in more than eight years.”

FCPS attributes the contracted growth to a decrease in entering kindergarten cohorts and a decline in net migration. The document projects overall growth at a moderate rate over the next five years, while enrollment in the early grades might actually decline slightly.

Enrollment increases are projected for middle and high schools, however, and that will “continue to present a capacity challenge,” the CIP states. And because that growth is expected to be uneven, FCPS proposes to address the problem through boundary changes, as well as capacity enhancements.

The CIP calls for three new elementary schools and one new high school. The only one in the Annandale/Mason area is an elementary school on the site of the Willston Multicultural Center in Seven Corners “to alleviate potential future capacity concerns in the region.”

The cost of funding all the projects in the CIP is estimated at $845 million over five years, while the amount of funding available from school bonds and other sources is just $385 million.

Funding for capital improvement projects is currently limited by a $155 million yearly cap on school bond sales. Because facilities needs exceed the amount of funding available, the schedules for many future renovation projects are expected to be delayed.

Here’s what’s in the CIP for schools in the Annandale/Mason area:

In the Annandale High School Pyramid 
  • Annandale Terrace Elementary School – When renovation is completed in the 2020-21 school year, the school will have a design capacity of 750 students. 
  • A new Advance Academic Program (AAP) Center is considered for either Annandale Terrace or Braddock ES to provide capacity relief to Canterbury Woods ES and keep the pyramid cohorts together. 
  • Bren Mar Park ES and Columbia ES – A capacity deficit could be accommodated with temporary facilities or interior architectural modifications. 
  • Mason Crest ES – The CIP proposes moving all students to the Falls Church HS pyramid to reduce the school’s status as a split feeder. Currently, 75 percent of Mason Crest students go to Falls Church and 25 percent go to Stuart. 
  • North Springfield ES – When renovations are completed at the end of this school year, the school will have a design capacity of 635 students.
  • Poe MS – Create a new AAP Center at Poe to serve AAP students currently at Glasgow MS and Frost MS, proving capacity relief to those schools. 
  • Annandale HS – Remove surplus trailers.
In the Falls Church High School pyramid
  • Westlawn ES and Woodburn ES – A capacity deficit would be accommodated with temporary facilities or interior architectural modifications. 
  • Jackson MS – Provide capacity relief at Jackson and help align feeder patterns by reassigning a portion of the Jackson MS students, who will eventually attend Oakton HS, to Thoreau MS. 
  • Falls Church HS – Renovation to be completed in the 10-year CIP cycle. 
In the Stuart High School pyramid 
  • Belvedere ES – If a new AAP Center is created at an elementary school in the Annandale HS pyramid, that would provide capacity relief to Belvedere. 
  • Glasgow MS – Create capacity relief by installing a 10-classroom modular addition in 2017-18 and shift AAP students to a new AAP Center at Poe MS. 
  • Stuart HS – Apply for a zoning variance to construct an addition to alleviate the capacity deficit.
Among the FCPS schools projected to be most over-capacity within the next five years are these schools in the Annandale/Mason District area: Wakefield Forest ES, Columbia ES, Woodburn ES, Bren Mar Park ES, Belvedere ES, Jackson MS, and Frost MS,  


  1. There are 800 trailers across the system!!!! and they are overcrowded! Enrollment might be going down....but all these trailers are disgraceful!

  2. Too bad we don't have school choice...

    1. Talk to the taxpayers outside the Beltway about that. Parents routinely move out there to get away from Mason schools, so I doubt if they'd be in the least bit interested in accommodating a bunch of Mason students in their pristine schools.

    2. I don't disagree with this, but it's more than that. Why does the school board get to decide where to draw the boundaries? If I feel like driving my child from Mason to Langley or Woodson, shouldn't that be my choice, not dictated by some arbitrary boundary that the school board draws? Don't I know where it is best for my child to go? Why should I have to uproot my family just to go to a school I deem "good'?

    3. How daft and naïve. School choice will not mean that you can send your snowflake to Woodson at your leisure. School choice in Mason District would mean that a bunch of dubious for-profit and non-profit charter schools will pop up, while the outer-beltway bourgeoisie will continue to enjoy their thriving public schools.

      Well-to-dos do not send their kids to charter schools. They send their kids to strong public schools, or private.

      Fairfax County need to redraw districts so that schools are more equitable in terms of the socioeconomic statuses of students, and needs to support and encourage wide-scale redevelopment of more economically depressed areas.

    4. It should mean that I can send my child to Woodson or anywhere I want. Why should arbitrary boundaries and teacher unions decide what's the best school for my child.

    5. Because that isn't what school choice is. People didn't pay $800k or more for a home in the Woodson boundaries for their children to co-mingle with the poors at school. Has nothing to do with teachers' unions.

      Look at all other districts nationwide that support "school choice". It is never the though of sending your kid to the highest performing public school in the district.

  3. What a joke to put the AAP Center at either Braddock or Annandale Terrace. They are both the pits and a disgrace. Braddock is even worse than Annandale Terrace. I would not send my kids to either school even if they are a Center. There is a reason that Braddock has a complete turn over of teachers in the last couple of years. No teachers are left. Parents have moved to get their kids out of the school. Why the School Board has allowed this or would allow a center at either school is baffling.

  4. The redistrict of 2011 effectively segregated Annandale High School. The school board knowingly did this, might I say the heavily left leaning school board, and for that matter left leaning County Board of Supervisors. In 2016 the Washington Post published this article, and the outcome of the redistricting has been exactly as noted in the article and predicted, AHS is a high minority, low income school with shockingly low participation rates by parents. It's the same usual suspects that do everything, those few remaining middle class, to upper middle class families are the remnants of the backbone of the school. Meanwhile since the redistricting Lake Braddock and WT Woodson athletic teams have enjoyed tremendous success. At this point AHSs gymnastics team is unable to field 4 athletes and actually practices at Lake Braddock. The Annandale Swim team only has 10 boys, when 20+ is the norm. But, no one talks about what has happened, it's crickets from the board, there is zero recognition that a strong economic base of middle class students is critical to elevating low income students and getting the great outcomes for all. I predict that 4 years from now AHS will no longer participate in swimming or gymnastics. Fairfax county residents voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, yet segregate kids in their own County. Gerry Connolly actually ran unopposed in 2016, and is effectively the father of the modern day Board and School Board that has perpetrated this on the most vulnerable segment of the county population, its as if they desire to keep people down.

    1. The limousine liberals of Fairfax County are the worst. They are more than happy to create defacto ghettos on the east and south sides of the county, while lauding themselves for being so progressive and embracing of the poors.

  5. From the Annandale Blog in 2011... segregation is good capacity planning.

    Capacity must be addressed

    Tessie Wilson of the Braddock District, which includes Wakefield Forest and Woodson High School, said she opposes the amendment because the need to reduce overcrowding at AHS overrides other concerns.

    She noted that student achievement for African-Americans, Hispanics, and students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches at AHS actually improved the year after the Broyhill Crest and Ravensworth students were removed.

    Brad Center (Lee) said he was voting against the amendment because the objective of the regional planning study was to reduce overcrowding. “If we don’t do this, it sets a precedent about trying to promote diversity and that’s not the purpose.” He cited a quote from John Stuart Mill to urge the board to consider “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

    Stuart Gibson (Hunter Mill) also said he was voting against the amendment because, if the board doesn’t address overcrowding in the part of the county with the highest birthrate, it will have to revisit the issue again in three years.

    Elizabeth Bradsher (Springfield), who voted against the amendment, said “it’s about capacity,” and James Raney (at-large) said he was voting against it because reassigning the Wakefield Forest students to Woodson would be “consistent with commuting patterns.”

    Daniel Storck (Mount Vernon), who voted for the amendment, said that while the board does need to address overcrowding, he agrees with Evan’s “first do no harm” statement.

    “When we pull a community out, we’re making an irrevocable decision,” he said. “We need to be a little more cautious, even if it means a school has a little more students than we’d like.”

    Patty Reed (Providence) said she had been leaning toward basing her vote on the need to reduce overcrowding, but “that’s not the only issue,” and she ended up supporting it. She was influenced by an email from a former student who wanted to be in the band but couldn’t afford an instrument. Other people helped, and the student ended up graduating from college with a degree in music.

    “People at AHS love the diversity and can live with the overcrowding,” Reed said. “I don’t believe the solution is to take out the community that is the spark to this flame.”


  7. I chose to stay in Mason District and keep my kids in our schools (Beech Tree, Poe, and Annandale HS) because we valued the diversity and appreciated the opportunity to interact with people from many cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. I'm proud to say they are college graduates, gainfully employed, and successful professionals.

    1. Thumbs up, Ellie. Thank you.

    2. Hey, I wrote pieces above about what has happened at AHS... I kept my kids there and they love it, but there is no denying the impact of the redistrict. I truly appreciate this blog, and I enjoy Annandale... it's much easier to keep up with the Kim's versus the Jones's. :)