Fairfax County Public Schools has further refined a plan to relieve overcapacity at McLean High School using available space at Langley High School.
After presenting three possible boundary changes for the McLean and Langley pyramids at a community meeting on Dec. 7, FCPS Facilities and Transportation Services reviewed public feedback to refine one of its proposals, dubbed “Option C.” The updated option was presented to the Fairfax County School Board last night (Thursday).
For the last 10 years, overcrowding has persisted at McLean despite several limited attempts to add space over the years. The school sits at 118% capacity, with 2,350 students in a building designed for 1,993. Currently, 12 modular classrooms are being built to bring the capacity down to 100%.
The new recommendation from FCPS reassigns a portion of the area that currently feeds students from Spring Hill Elementary School to Longfellow Middle School and McLean. About 159 students would move from McLean to Langley, and about 73 students would move from Longfellow to Cooper Middle School.
“We have come a long way since work first began on the boundary adjustment between McLean and Langley pyramids,” Dranesville Representative Elaine Tholen said during the meeting. “Tonight, we are seeing some of the fruits of hard work our facilities staff has done to analyze option after option after listening to and incorporating public input.”
The original “Option C,” presented in December, considered reassigning students in the Spring Hill Elementary School split feeder area. After collecting emailed comments and verbal feedback, staff modified this option to create the new recommendation, said Jeffrey Platenberg, the assistant superintendent of facilities and transportation.
“This is a pretty natural process,” he said during the meeting. “We usually call these the hybrid recommendation.”
Staff who reviewed public feedback found that the communities involved were primarily concerned about the impact of development in and around Tysons, the possibility of too many split feeders, and the socioeconomic diversity of the schools involved, he said.
Meanwhile, Tholen said some have shared concerns about balancing populations amid COVID-19 uncertainties and ongoing development. Others worry that Cooper Middle School will be overlooked in the focus on McLean and Longfellow, and still other community members want FCPS to diversify the types of housing within the boundaries for Langley.
As for those worried about children in their final year of elementary, middle or high school, school board policy allows FCPS to grandfather in these students, Platenberg said.
The assistant superintendent said the proposed revision addresses some of these concerns while allowing FCPS to monitor growth at McLean and Langley high schools.
Tholen acknowledged that no plan will address all concerns, but she encouraged every neighborhood to share how they feel they would be impacted.
“We are still taking public input,” she said. “No final decision has been made.”
There will be a public hearing next Thursday (Jan. 28), and after that, the school board will vote to pick a plan on Feb. 4.
“Your input has been thoughtful and extremely helpful, so please continue,” Tholen said.
Chart via FCPS