After hearing from dozens of parents and community members, the Prince William County School Board is spending a little extra time analyzing proposed boundary changes for 16 elementary schools before an expected vote.
The board is set to consider approving the new boundaries at its meeting Wednesday, Jan. 16. Proposals were presented to the board Jan. 2, and members voted to discuss the rezoning in detail during a work session Jan. 10.
The school division is preparing for the opening of an elementary school on Prince William Parkway near the Chinn Park Regional Library that will accommodate 710 students. The school division is also finishing additions for 13 classrooms at Antietam, Lake Ridge and Springwoods elementary schools, 10 classrooms at Minnieville Elementary and four classrooms at Leesylvania Elementary.
The flood of new desks will reduce overcrowding at several schools in Lake Ridge, Occoquan and Woodbridge, but it also means adjusting the attendance map for more than 10,000 county students for the 2019-2020 school year.
The school division developed a preliminary plan, and a volunteer committee proposed two plans.
Division staff found an error in the square footage used for Occoquan Elementary last month and that will increase the school’s capacity by about 80 students, said Matthew Cartlidge, the school division’s supervisor of planning. To accommodate the additional capacity, the division staff and the volunteer committee updated proposed boundary plans, he said.
School board member Gil Trenum, who represents the Brentsville district, said although school division staff had no ill intent, the perception was that the process was not trustworthy when a new plan is presented after two public meetings were held.
Woodbridge district school board member Loree Williams said the proposals have many emotional and financial effects on families, including increased time traveling on busy Old Bridge Road.
“There’s a huge factor that we can’t put on paper but very much impacts all of our ability to educate and raise our kids,” she said. “That’s a big deal.”
School board member Lillie Jessie, who has represented the Occoquan district since 2012, said this is the biggest and most impactful boundary plan the school division has worked on.