Manassas Journal Messenger 02-16-01


decry school boundaries: Parents raise concerns over Braemar plan’s lack

of ‘balance’


Diane Freda



As Prince William County schools get closer to drawing boundaries for

a new 840-student elementary school in the Braemar neighborhood, the current

plan has some critics.

“Our biggest concern is balance,” said Kim Calkins, a parent

with one child at Bristow Run. “The plan indicated they wanted to get

kids out of portables and keep neighborhoods together, and I don’t think

it has addressed that at all.”

Calkins pointed out that Braemar is at 67.6 percent of capacity while

Bristow Run is at 108 percent, and said the plan should move more students

from Bristow Run to Braemar.

The main issues for parents have been keeping students in their own neighborhoods

and limiting busing as much as possible.

A public hearing on the proposed lines is scheduled for Feb. 28 preceding

presentation of the plan to the Prince William County School Board.

Proponents of the plan say the lines balance the students among four

elementary schools: Bristow Run, Tyler, Mountain View and Sinclair, and

leave space at Braemar for growth in enrollment. One important part of the

plan is that it reassigns the Coverstone area from Tyler Elementary to Sinclair,

reducing the travel distance for these students, and makes schools more


“Essentially we want to leave room at Braemar because of all the

growth that is there. We will be getting the Dominion Valley School in 2003,

and that will relieve Bristow Run. Some of the (alternate) solutions that

are being discussed involve geographic problems because you end up with

doughnuts instead of contiguous attendance,” said David Beavers, planning

analyst for the schools.

The decision about where to draw the boundaries has turned into a political

hot potato for school board members who are being lobbied by parents who

want their children to go to one school or another.

One criticism of the plan is that it leaves Bristow Run at the higher

end of capacity utilization. Calkins has advocated splitting up some nearby

housing developments, such as Laurianne Woods, and moving them to Braemar

rather than keeping those students at Bristow Run.

In all, 717 students would be affected by the new Braemar school: 344

students would move from Bristow Run to Braemar; 137 from Mountainview to

Tyler; 161 from Tyler to Sinclair; and 75 from Tyler to Braemar.

Ultimately, Calkins said, a new elementary school will be needed between

Bristow Run and Tyler. Although one is planned for Dominion Valley, which

will alleviate overcrowding at Mountainview and Tyler, it will do nothing

to address the concerns of parents with students in the Linton Hall corridor.

The school system has been overloaded with requests for new schools,

as population increases in certain parts of the county.

“The money to build new schools is a perpetual headache,” said

Brentsville School Board member Lyle Beefelt. “We need another elementary

school and high school to be under construction right now, but that would

cost $57 million.”

Beefelt said so far he has not seen a better solution to the Braemar

lines than the ones that have currently been drawn. He said if more students

are pulled out of Bristow Run now, they will just have to be moved back

in two years when another elementary school is built, and lines are shifted




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