Editor: Rumors, confusion and fears about school redistricting are rampant in this year’s School Board campaign.
Fairfax County Public Schools’ boundaries are complex and far from optimal. Smart adjustments can improve educational performance, lead to healthier and happier students, reduce costs and help relieve traffic congestion.
For seven years, I served on the School Board’s Facilities Planning Advisory Council (FPAC). Formed after the contentious decision to close Clifton Elementary School, the FPAC has struggled from its first meetings to provide thoughtful advice to FCPS about boundary issues.
Three principles guided us:
• Reduce bus transportation.
• Foster cohort continuity.
• Optimize building use.
Let’s apply these to McLean High School/Longfellow Middle School and Langley High School/Cooper Middle School.
McLean/Longfellow are over capacity (with crowded hallways and students in trailers) while Langley/Cooper are under capacity. The vast majority of Spring Hill Elementary students go to Langley/Cooper, but one of FCPS’s largest “islands” sends about 20 percent of Spring Hill students to McLean/Longfellow. Ending this would answer all three core principles and lead to healthier students, better educational outcomes, lowered costs and reduced traffic on congested streets.
Amid the School Board race, rumors fly that children will be ripped from their schools and bused to the other end of Fairfax. Honestly, no serious player advocates anything like this. Actual discussions are searching for paths forward that will serve everyone’s – especially students’ – interests.
We like continuity, fear change and fiercely want to protect our children. School-redistricting discussions hit like a bombshell on these accounts. Misinformed (if not malicious) rumors inhibit moves to solve real challenges.
Redistricting can be in the best interests of taxpayers, school management and students. Let’s have honest engagement to foster better use of our tax dollars with happier and more successful students.
Adam Siegel, McLean