After reviewing Thursday the latest changes to boundary proposals impacting 16 schools in eastern and central Prince William County, school board members plan to vote on proposed elementary school attendance zones at a Jan. 16 meeting
The board wrestled with the possibility that the new Prince William Parkway school will be overcrowded when it opens, and addressed other issues during the work session attended by 40 parents and community members.
It was another step in a months-long planning process that started in fall 2018 with school division staff and a committee of volunteers developing proposals for new boundaries in the 2019-2020 school year.
Parents and community members have expressed concerns with the changes that will impact 10,000 students, including the splitting neighborhoods and increasing driving distance for parents along busy Old Bridge Road.
Attendees were greeted with new proposals from At-large Chairman Babur Lateef and school board members Lillie Jessie, Occoquan District; Loree Williams, Woodbridge District; and Diane Raulston, Neabsco District.
Currently 14 of the 16 elementary schools affected are over 100 percent capacity and without any boundary changes, six schools are projected to exceed 125 percent capacity in 2023, said Superintendent Steven Walts.
Proper boundary drawing can relieve overcrowding next school year, Walts said.
Some proposals would eliminate some or all of the 61 trailers utilized as classroom space in the 16 elementary schools.
Cathy Balfanz, who has a child attending Penn Elementary, said after the work session she appreciates Raulston and Jessie for meeting with her and other parents to continue developing the plans.
“I’m impressed how our representatives listened to our concerns and tried to make as many people happy as possible,” she said. “They can’t make everyone happy; I don’t envy their jobs. They’re probably trying to fix too many problems at once.”
The school board will consider approving the boundary changes at its Jan. 16 meeting. School board members will soon begin discussing the budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 and already began discussions on Wednesday, Jan. 9 about the school division’s 10-year capital improvements plan that will need to be approved with the budget.