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Officials look to move 300 students out of Fairfax High

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Fairfax County school officials want to move roughly 300 students from Fairfax High School into neighboring schools to prevent the school from being nearly 600 students over capacity in five years.

Fairfax County Public Schools also hopes to move 150 students from Lanier Middle School, from which many students go on to attend Fairfax High. Lanier Middle is expected to have 114 students more than its buildings can hold within five years.

Of the five schools whose districts border Fairfax High's district -- Oakton, Chantilly, W.T. Woodson, Robinson and Falls Church high schools -- only two, Robinson and Woodson, are expected to be below their enrollment capacities in the 2017-2018 academic year. Oakton High School is expected to be nearly 200 students over capacity.

Source: Fairfax County Public Schools

Enrollment at Fairfax High School and its neighbors
2012 capacity 2012-2013 enrollment 2012-2013 share of capacity 2017-2018 enrollment 2017-2018 share of capacity Remaining seats 2012-2013 Remaining seats 2017-2018
High schools
Centreville 2,056 2,381 116% 2,498 121% -325 -442
Chantilly 2,583 2,631 102% 2,761 107% -48 -178
Fairfax 2,412 2,659 110% 3,011 125% -247 -599
Falls Church 1,954 1,663 85% 2,020 103% 291 -66
Oakton 2,078 2,165 104% 2,269 109% -87 -191
Robinson 2,564 2,685 105% 2,480 97% -121 84
W.T. Woodson 2,327 2,226 96% 2,262 97% 101 65
Middle schools
Franklin 1,080 838 78% 848 79% 242 232
Robert Frost 930 1,081 116% 1,040 98% -151 24
Luther Jackson 1,146 1,164 102% 1,505 131% -18 -359
Lanier 1,307 1,239 95% 1,421 109% 68 -114
Liberty 1,283 1,112 87% 1,151 90% 171 132
Robinson 1,316 1,204 91% 994 76% 112 322
Rocky Run 1,070 1,018 95% 1,078 101% 52 -8

The School Board plans to study the potential impact of changing the boundaries of the schools in the cluster, in the hopes that students can be shifted out of Fairfax High by the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.

The City of Fairfax School Board asked the county for the study in a letter sent in June. The letter, from board Chairwoman Janice Miller, cites concerns that by 2016, Fairfax High School will be the largest high school in the county with more than 3,000 students, as well as one of the two most crowded campuses.

Many board members at a work session Monday said they were worried that a change in boundaries would be a short-term fix to a long-term problem, though they agreed with city officials' concerns.

"The thing that we need to be aggressive about is not more domino boundary extending, changing, flipping -- moving the problem from here to there," said board member Elizabeth Schultz, who represents Springfield. "We need another high school, so I'd rather be aggressive on doing the right thing the first time, than making the community endure relentless boundary changes. ... The problem's only going to get worse."

But building new schools or expanding current ones requires revenue that the school system doesn't have, said Jane Strauss, the board member representing Dranesville.

At-large board member Ted Velkoff suggested the School Board ask the Board of Supervisors to raise taxes to help solve the problem.

"I can't raise taxes," he said. "I would if I could, but I don't have that authority."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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