Manassas Journal Messenger | Villages at Saybrooke families speak out on school relocation

Terry and his wife Jane Lemons have a son going into third grade at Cedar Point Elementary School in Bristow and a daughter old enough for kindergarten in 2004. Their son began kindergarten at Bristow Run Elementary School and then was relocated to Cedar Point in 2001, the year it opened.

Both worry their children will be relocated from Cedar Point to a new elementary school opening on Ashton Avenue in 2004, next to Stonewall Jackson High School.

Since the end of the 2002-2003 school year, chats around the pool and backyard barbecues in the Villages at Saybrooke community spurred discussion of starting a group to address the concern, according to Terry Lemons.

However, the school division’s boundary planning committee will not be chosen until November, according to David Beavers, Prince William County Public Schools planning analyst.

Saybrooke Alliance Values Education is a group of parents in Villages at Saybrooke sharing similar concerns to the Lemons.

About 50 to 70 parents met at S.A.V.E.’s first organization meeting Tuesday to voice their opinion and raise questions of concern, according to members of the group.

“I’d say we have about 100 parents involved right now,” Terry Lemons said in an interview Monday.

S.A.V.E.’s goals are to “keep our students at their local neighborhood school” and look at the impact of boundary changes on education, Terry Lemons said.

When Cedar Point opened in 2001, Terry Lemons said Villages at Saybrooke parents were involved from the start.

“We’re really the founding members of Cedar Point,” Terry Lemons said. “It really is our school.”

Another concern of S.A.V.E.’s is the possible traffic that may come along the Linton Hall corridor — where buses would transport students back and forth from Villages at Saybrooke to the new school.

Terry Lemons noted Cedar Point is about a mile from Villages at Saybrooke. Depending on the route, it could be at least five miles to Ashton Avenue.

“It’s got a lot of implications in terms of traffic,” Terry Lemons said.

The first year Cedar Point opened, Karen Wisbey served as the PTA’s secretary. Wisbey was elected by S.A.V.E. members as one of the representatives to serve on a boundary planning committee in November, if Villages at Saybrooke community members are sought for the process.

At the meeting Tuesday, S.A.V.E. also elected 27 “block captains” who will be going door-to-door with surveys in the next one or two weeks.

S.A.V.E.’s next meeting is Aug. 18 and an e-mail address has been set up at [email protected] for parents interested in the effort. Parents are encouraged to include an address and phone number in the e-mail, according to a press release.

Cedar Point serves students in Villages at Saybrooke, Sheffield Manor, Victory Lakes, Braemar, Bridalwood Manor and Ashley Ridge. Cedar Point opened in 2001 with a capacity for 852 students. By the fall, 1,133 are projected, Beavers said.

To accommodate the overcrowding at Cedar Point, lunch periods are longer. With more students, more teachers and support staff are sought for hiring, Cedar Point Principal Mike Drummond said in an interview Wednesday.

“It comes together. We make it work,” Drummond said.

The new elementary school on Ashton Avenue is being built for up to 674 students.

Drummond said he was aware of parents with concern toward leaving Cedar Point come fall 2004.

“They feel connected here. That’s important,” he said.

Though Prince William County school officials are in the early stages of the planning process and setting up boundaries, parents in Sheffield Manor and Victory Lakes were also among those expressing similar concerns at past board meetings this year.

“We don’t want this to be neighbor against neighbor because we are a community out here,” Wisbey said.

Beavers said attendance areas that could be affected by boundary changes include students attending Cedar Point and George C. Mullen elementary schools. Mullen was built to house 746 students. Eight-hundred-seventy-one are projected to attend this year.

The board will set the criteria for a boundary planning committee in November or December. From that point, a boundary planning committee comprised of representatives of the surrounding neighborhoods of the new school will be formed, said Lucy Beauchamp, School Board chairman at-large.

“We make sure that every single area has a representative,” Beauchamp said. Beauchamp said she recognized students in Sheffield Manor have been moved three or four times.

“I would very much entertain a possibility of exempting them,” Beauchamp said.

“This will all be looked at very, very closely,” Beauchamp added. “I mean I have so much sympathy and empathy for these people.”

“It affects everybody. Boundaries are so very difficult,” she said.

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