Potomac News Online | Residents ask officials to keep kids near home

About 300 parents came Monday to Cedar Point Elementary School to raise concern about the chance of their child being moved from their home school when a new one opens on Ashton Avenue in fall 2004.

Concerns included the amount of time the child is on a bus to and from school, what the outlook is for more schools to come to the Linton Hall corridor and whether favoritism will be shown to one neighborhood over another.

Prince William County School Board members Lucy Beauchamp, chairman-at-large, Lyle Beefelt, Brentsville District representative, Steven Keen, Woodbridge District representative and Donald Richardson, Gainesville District representative, were at the meeting.

A banner on the wall of the auditorium reading: “Saybrooke + Braemar = Cedar Point.” Posters hung reading, “TREACHEROUS TRAFFIC AHEAD, If Saybrooke Students are Bussed to Ashton.”

Saybrooke Alliance Values Education (SAVE) is a group of parents living in Villages at Saybrooke. Parents in Braemar Northgate are also joining in the efforts. SAVE parents passed out 1,000 flyers Friday morning notifying people of the meeting, according to Karen Wisbey, who lives in Villages of Saybrooke.

“Of course we’re here for the No. 1 reason — our children,” Suzanne Woods, a member of SAVE said before the meeting began. “The traffic here is absolutely ridiculous. I mean why should our children have to deal with the stress of traffic.”

children could face a 45- to 60-minute bus ride.

SAVE member Terry Lemons polled the crowd by a show of hands, how many would drive their children to school versus put them on a bus, and the showing was about 40 to 50 percent of the crowd, he said after hands shot up, scattered across the room.

One parent questioned how late school could begin at the new school.

Beefelt said the new school would not begin later than 9:15 a.m. to ensure all students are released in Prince William County by 4:30 p.m.

Beefelt also pointed out Cedar Point will be at a 140 to 150 percent capacity this school year.

“That’s about the line where you start going from a crowded situation to an unworkable situation,” Beefelt said.

The next elementary school in the Linton Hall area was scheduled to be built in Victory Lakes but the site was not ready in time for building and opening by September 2004. Ashton Avenue was the next site.

“It was a bad option but it was a better option than no option at all,” Beefelt said.

The School Board would not have constructed a school if it they did not think they could run it “safely and effectively,” Beefelt said.

Beefelt was contacted by parents living in Sheffield Manor last winter, he said. According to the school division’s records, students there moved to Mullen in 1997, to Tyler in 1998 and then to Cedar Point in 2001.

Villages of Saybrooke students went to Bristow Run Elementary School in 1998 and than moved to Cedar Point in 2001.

“We will not throw them overboard at the outset of the process,” Beefelt said of those in Sheffield Manor, encouraging all of the communities to work together during the boundary planning process.

Board members informed the parents that the next step will set the guidelines for a boundary planning committee in September or October. The committee will need representatives from each neighborhood that could be affected by the change. In the January-February 2004 time frame, a decision may be made. The decision will be made by the board elected in November’s election.

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