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Parents Speak Out Against Fairfax School Boundary Shifts

In passionate speeches, some parents — most from Fairfax Station — said they felt 'targeted' and the shift would be 'a nightmare' for them.

A large number of parents from the Fairfax Station "island" community turned out Wednesday evening for the Fairfax County School Board's public hearing on a proposed school boundary line shift - and most of them were not happy.

Many parents from the Fairfax Station community, who face being pulled out of the "Frost-Woodson pyramid" - meaning, their elementary school would no longer feed into Frost Middle School and then Woodson High School - said they felt "unfairly targeted" and that they were being treated as "statistically insignificant" because of their community's small size.

Chidlren from the community would instead go to Robinson Secondary School, according to a plan proposed by school officials.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and Fairfax City Schools have worked for months on how to redraw school boundary lines in an effort to relieve overcrowding in three of the City's four schools.


Parents cited many reasons for being unhappy with the proposed changes, ranging from long-standing family traditions of attending Frost Middle School and then Woodson High, to longer commutes to school, to potential stress on students who will be moved away from their friends or siblings.

Martin Seanor, a father who lives in the Fairfax Station "island community," said he felt the changes being thrust upon his neighborhood are unfair, considering how "statistically insignificant" they are.

"We only send about 20 kids a year to Woodson," he said.

Seanor appealed to the board to let current families stay where they are, and to only make new families that move into the area change to the new pyramids. He said many people bought their current homes specifically to get their children into Woodson High School.

He also suggested the board could allow families to exempt themselves from the change if they agree to pay tuition to be allowed to go to Woodson if they choose.

Katie Stedham, a Fairfax Station mother, also said she felt unfairly targeted.

"I feel like our community is being targeted as a statistically insignificant island when, if you look at a map, we're not an island," she said.

Stedham said the island was initially created by board members themselves many years ago  "in order to keep Woodson populated."

"Now, our island isn't needed, and you want to clean up the map, and get rid of our island," she said.

A few families from other areas such as Falls Church and Oakton also commented.

One mother whose child currently attends Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church and would have attended Oakton High School faces being shifted to Falls Church High School if the proposed changes are approved in the scheduled vote on May 9.

She said the change would, without a doubt, have a negative impact on her child.

Her child is within walking distance of Oakton High School now, she said, but would have a seven-mile commute by car to Falls Church High School with the boundary changes.

"Moving further away to Falls Church High School will be a nightmare," she said, adding that she fears a longer commute to school will deprive her son of crucial study and sleep time, due to having to get up much earlier in the mornings to get on the road.

"Time matters for a student, especially one in high school," she said. "Giving them more time behind the wheels doesn't make sense."

The next steps

From here, the FCPS Board is expected to take all of the public input into consideration during a study/work session on April 29.

A vote on the matter is then expected to take place on May 9.

What do you think of the hearing and plan for new boundary lines and pyramids? Tell us in the comments.

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Kevin B. April 18, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Interesting how we are not hearing any complaints from FX Villa families as they would seem to have the most to complain about. Do you know that FX Villa Kids have attended Frost and Woodson back in the early 70's and then Robinson until 1984 when they were switched to Lanier - Fairfax and now back to Frost Woodson.. Talk about lots of switching for one neighborhood.
Mark Boyd April 18, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Phillip -- Every Fairfax Station island homeowner who spoke last night had a child currently in the school system and discussed the impacts of the proposed boundary change to their families. If there was a concern about home values, you'd think some childless neighbors or parents of grown children would at least show up to support the meeting. I'm not so sure what you state about Woodson pyramid home values is true anymore – at least not for the Fairfax Station island. I suppose you can argue that the recent threats of boundary changes has already depressed Fairfax Station island home values, but I don't think you can prove being in the Woodson pyramid has dramatically boosted values by pointing to recent sales comps between homes in the Fairfax Station island and neighboring communities in the Robinson attendance area. The opposition to the proposed boundary change is not about home values for Fairfax Station families
John Wright April 19, 2013 at 12:12 AM
For Fairfax Station the arguments against the change are: (1) it's simply not necessarily, as Woodson is and will remain underutilized, (2) it's disruptive for the children and a community that's been a very active Woodson community for 30 years, and (3) it likely will affect home values. The fact that older Fairfax Station residents didn't turn out can likely be attributed to exhaustion (this fight was just fought - and won, they thought - two years ago). Fairfax Station is only an island because of the way some non-residential areas on the map are colored.
Mark Boyd April 19, 2013 at 06:51 PM
I hope the school board heavily weighs those first two arguments; it was the common thread in all our honest concerns voiced Wednesday night. We know from past votes that the school board could care less about home values. It’s not a criteria they base their decision on, and I’m glad none of the Fairfax Station residents brought it up as a concern because it would do nothing but perpetuate negative stereotypes against Fairfax Station. Besides, I’m still not convinced being in the Woodson pyramid has helped home values in Fairfax Station anyway. Comps of recently sold homes between the Fairfax Station island and surrounding Robinson pyramid neighborhoods don’t seem to back that claim up. The fact that our public high school population has gone from about 250 in the late 80s, to under a 100 today doesn’t point to the high school driving a housing demand either.
Martin Seano April 19, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Jennifer, thank you for covering this story. One correction, I stated that there were "20 students per class per year" on Wednesday night. I did mention "paying tuition" but this was only an attempt to offer up a compromise if the school board changed our pyramid. Due to lack of time I could not expand on this and I realize this may or may not be the view of my neighbors. My point was that if our pyramid was changed and if anyone wanted to stay in the pyramid and due to the unique circumstances, they would be granted the option to pay tuition (if they elected) to stay in the Frost/Woodson pyramid. I was only trying to offer potential solutions to the board if our pyramid is changed.


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