Regional Study Approved, WFES and BMP Leave Annandale High School
Thursday evening's vote ends a year-long process to solve overcrowding at Annandale High School
The Fairfax County School Board voted to approve the attendance area recommendations for the Annandale Regional Study on Thursday night, officially removing the eastern portion of the Wakefield Forest Elementary School and the Bren Mar Park Elementary School communities from the Annandale High School attendance pyramid.
The amendment to retain Wakefield Forest Elementary School (WFES) as an AHS feeder school failed to pass on a 6-6 tie. As a result of the vote, students at Wakefield Forest Elementary School (WFES) will attend Woodson High School.
Sea of Red Shirts
The vote was met with heavy disappointment from parents in those communities. A few were crying, and the sea of red shirts that sat unified in the front of the auditorium exited en masse.
Both the WFES and BMP communities have been vocal about the recommendation; with the WFES parents divided in their support and the BMP parents feeling largely left out of the entire study process. In her comments, Evans again defended BMP, saying they’ve only had two months to absorb and react to the recommendation.
With the removal of WFES and BMP, some board members said they felt the study’s objectives to relieve the overcrowding at AHS and establish the boundaries at the new elementary school on the Lacey site in Annandale could be accomplished.
“We put [AHS] at risk. And it’s not going to be the people who are here advocating, it’s going to be the kids left behind who are going to suffer,” at-large member Martina Hone said before the final vote. The full study was approved with an 11-2 vote.
Votes and Amendments
Hone, Mason District representative Sandra Evans, Providence District member Patricia Reed, Vice Chairman, at-Large representative Ilryong Moon, Chairman and Dranesville District representative Jane Strauss, and Mount Vernon District representative Dan Storck voted in favor of the amendment.
Earlier in the evening, Hone used the game Jenga to help illustrate her support for the amendment to keep WFES at AHS. “We don’t know what’s going to be the Jenga piece that will take down the school,” Hone said, referencing the Ravensworth and Broyhill Crest neighborhoods that were removed from the AHS attendance area last year.
Braddock District representative Tessie Wilson, who represented AHS until it became part of Mason District due to redistricting, did not support the amendment because she feels students have “the right to an education in a classroom” instead of a modular. “I have more faith in the staff and students at Annandale because I know they can achieve,” said Wilson. “[Solving] the overcrowding at Annandale is critical.”
Some board members sounded undecided in their decision before the vote, like Moon who eventually said retired AHS principal John Ponton’s letter to the board and his own observations swayed his vote. Others like Lee District representative Brad Center and Hunter Mill District representative Stuart Gibson said they could not see a solution to reduce the overcrowding based on the numbers and the high birth rates in the area [see PDF at right] that are expected to rise.
Only the following amendments were made to the staff recommendation from the FCPS Facilities and Transportation department:
- Reed’s motion to retain the current Pine Spring Elementary School attendance island assignment at all school levels.
- Evans’ amendment to assign the Columbia Pines subdivision from Poe Middle School and Falls Church High School to Glasgow Middle School and Stuart High School, effective with rising 6th and 9th graders in school year 2012-2013.
- Evans’ amendment to retain Barcroft Knolls, Overlook Knolls and the Dean Subdivision in the Belvedere Elementary School attendance area.
Back in April 2010, the School Board created the Annandale Regional Planning Study ad hoc Committee, comprises parents and community members from the 21 schools included in the study area. The committee met several times throughout the following months and held public meetings that lead to their presentation of solutions to the School Board in January 2011. The scope of the study was approved in April. Facilities posted their boundary recommendation Friday, June 17.
The proposed boundary changes, outlined in full detail in Appendix A [see PDF at right] will go into effect for the 2012-2013 school year.