With the 13th high school under construction, Prince William County School Board has approved new attendance boundaries for the 2021-22 school year that will impact 11,101 students at five schools in the western side of the county.
The board voted 7-1 near midnight June 19 for the plan that would shift students from Battlefield, Patriot, Stonewall Jackson, Osbourn Park and Brentsville high schools to make room for the new facility near Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater in the Bristow/Gainesville area.
With its boundary vote, the board simultaneously adopted a resolution to provide more funding for older schools in the division.
The approved resolution directed Superintendent Steve Walts to change the budgetary model to allocate more funding for older schools and create a budget priority for fiscal 2020-21 to fund infrastructure and equipment at Tier 1 schools as identified by the school division's Infrastructure Task Force.
The resolution also directs Walts to create at least two additional specialty programs at Stonewall, and consider expanding career and technical and specialty programs at other high schools and incorporate public input. Finally, the resolution states every effort should be made to expand dual enrollment opportunities for students throughout the division.
School Board member Lillie Jessie, who was the single vote against the boundaries, said she was disappointed that Osbourn Park High School was impacted by the final decision, even though it wasn’t part of two public meetings held earlier this spring.
Jessie also said the boundary plan did not have data on the demographics of students at the affected schools.
“I can’t vote for the plan,” she said. “I don’t have any idea of the demographics.”
Planning staff provided board members with 2018 demographics for the approved plan, but didn't include projected demographics for 2021-22, when the boundaries will go into effect.
Jessie said she hopes the further funding will help Stonewall, but adopting the plans was not fair to Stonewall or Osbourn Park high schools.
“I’m not sure it’s legal,” she said.
Maps through most of the boundary planning limited impacts to Stonewall Jackson, Battlefield and Patriot high schools. A request from school board members added Brentsville and Osbourn Park to the process.
A small area where the Manassas Airport is located was reassigned from Patriot High to Brentsville High, but there were no measurable effects on student enrollment or demographics for Brentsville High, said Diana Gulotta, the school division’s spokeswoman.
The school division’s previous proposed plans drew criticism from Stonewall Jackson High School students, teachers and parents, because it increased the demographic percentages at Stonewall while decreasing those demographics at Battlefield and Patriot.
Math teacher Chuck Ronco said Stonewall faculty and students helped develop the resolution for additional resources at Stonewall and other older schools by meeting with board members Gil Trenum and Willie Duestch, who represents the Brentsville and Coles district, respectively.
Chair Babur Lateef thanked Trenum for working with the Stonewall Jackson community to develop the resolution.
“There’s no way to map our way out of this mess,” Lateef said of the added resolution. “I believe this is a very good resolution.”
The new plan reduces 45 trailers in the school division and invests in older schools, Deutsch said.
Ronco said the resolution aims to offer additional resources to help Stonewall. The new capacity will provide space for Stonewall to offer specialty programs and attract more students to the high school, he said.
“There was no better way to do it and we had to think outside the box,” Ronco said.
Williams said she didn’t support the boundary plan, but does support the resolution.
“We just neglected a whole section of our community,” Williams said.
The new boundaries increase the percentage of minority students at Stonewall Jackson from 80.8% to 88.6%; increase the number of economically disadvantaged students from 50.7% to 59.9%, and increases the number of English learner students from 18.7% to 22.1%.
Osbourn Park will see an increase of its percentage of minority students from 62.3% to 67%, an increase of its percentage of economically disadvantaged students from 31.5% to 36.5%, and an increase of its English learner students from 12.3% to 15.7%.
Battlefield will decrease its percentage of minority students from 41.05% to 35.1%, decrease its percentage of economically disadvantaged students from 9.9% to 5.3%, and decrease its percentage of English learner students from 1.7% to 1%.
Patriot will see a decrease in its percentage of minority students from 47.4% to 46.2%, a slight increase in its percentage of economically disadvantaged students from 12.1% to 12.7%, and a slight decrease in its percentage of English learners from 2.6% to 2.4%.
Brentsville will not see any changes in its demographics. The school is slated to remain at 37.5% minority, 14.4% students who are economically disadvantaged and 4.3% of its students who are English learners.