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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