Beginning next week, Fairfax County Public Schools will host a series of community outreach listening events driven by crowding at Fairfax High School and Lanier Middle School.
Fairfax High School is more than 300 students over capacity and could reach as high as 700 students over capacity by 2017 if nothing is done, according to Fairfax County Public School projections. School officials are scrambling to create a solution to the crowding situation at the high school and neighboring Lanier Middle School, which is seeing similar capacity issues.
During the listening tour meetings, school officials will collect input about the scope of the upcoming boundary change from parents and community members.
Parents representing several schools likely to fall within the boundary study said they are reserving judgment on plans to shift students until there is more detail given by the county. The school system’s goal in the listening tour is to hear what community members think about its scope as well as what particular crowding issues they would like to see the school system address.
“My hope is that parents will come out [to the meetings]… because I think it will be extremely important that these communities, [which] will be impacted by the shift, be involved at the very beginning,” Fairfax City schools Superintendent Peter Noonan said. While the scope of the study and schools affected is the subject of the upcoming meetings, Noonan said parents from schools like Fairfax High, Lanier Middle, Robinson Secondary, Woodson High and Frost Middle attend a meeting because their communities could be impacted by shifts.
County and city school officials have said students living in the city will not be moved to other schools to curb crowding.
“I just hope the county is very thoughtful in this process. It can’t just be a quick fix,” said Lanier Middle School parent and PTA President Laura Welke. A city resident, Welke said she is not worried about her children being moved to other schools, but is worried about her children’s friends being moved to a new school and then shifted back to Fairfax High School. Because of this, parents like Welke said they want to see focused, long-term discussions on addressing crowding.
Frost Middle School PTA President Monica Cameron said the listening tour meetings should be an opportunity for parents to hear from school officials what the possibilities are, rather than receiving partial information from hearsay.
“What I don’t want to see is everyone getting alarmed. I want to see people come armed with the facts,” she said.
More information on the Fairfax High-Lanier Middle boundary study can be found by visiting www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/fairfaxlanier/index.shtml.