School Board Adopts Adjustment Plan 1B to Zone 13th HS

| June 20, 2019 | 0 Comments | Education

Image from above showing the side view of the new high school prototype.

The Prince William County School Board passed the Brentsville school board member’s Boundary Adjustment Plan 1B for the county’s 13th High School, Wednesday night.

The high school is to be located on Progress Court in Bristow and is scheduled to open in September of 2021.

The plan will include Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, Prince William in its zoning. The approval vote included a resolution to benefit Stonewall Jackson High School.

The boundary was approved by the board in a 7-1 vote with Occoquan school board member Lillie Jessie voting “no.”

Gil Trenum’s plan balances enrollment between Western Prince William County high schools, and allows for most children to truly attend their “neighborhood schools.”

The plan moves Victory Lakes in Bristow to Patriot High School in Nokesville and has most of Sheffield Manor in Bristow zoned for the 13th High School.

It moves some Parkside Middle School students in Manassas, previously zoned for Stonewall Jackson High School, to Osbourn Park High School, thus leaving some room at Stonewall Jackson for additional transfer students.

It does not provide demographic equity to Stonewall Jackson High School, which has a disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged students. This has been a point of contention among all plans.

However, Trenum did create a resolution to seek money for infrastructure improvements for the school, which was inspired by a list of requests from the Stonewall community.

Brentsville School Board member Adjustment Plan 1B was adopted by the School Board.

Find out what school your home is zoned for on the Parent Portal. 

Stonewall Infrastructure Funding Resolution

Trenum included a resolution directing the school division to provide more funding to Stonewall Jackson High School and all Prince William high schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students and older infrastructures.

Trenum stated the two monetary needs tend to compete, and as a result, older schools find themselves unable to provide all the necessary equipment, supplies and upgrades other schools may be able to afford or have been outfitted with in the beginning.

Additionally, he asked that staff seek to add more specialty programs to Stonewall Jackson High Schools, including CTE [Career Training Education], and to do the same at other schools where there is a need, and further to encourage dual enrollment across the county.

“I believe this is a very good resolution. I support the teachers from Stonewall, thanking them for it,” said Chairman Barbur Lateef, noting they talk about new schools in terms of “inspiration” and old schools in terms of “adequacy” and that should change.

“I’m excited by the motion we are adding to this,” said Gainesville school board member Alyson Satterwhite. “It started this with the infrastructure task force.”

Zoning to Include Osbourn Park High School

The controversial part of the plan was that it included moving some neighborhoods from Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas to Osbourn Park High School also in Manassas. These are neighborhoods that would progress with their classmates from Parkside Middle School.

Trenum saw a need. Since Colgan High School opened, Osbourn Park has depended very much upon transfer students. As new schools open, it is likely that fewer families would choose to send their children out of their community schools, and more room would also be available in other specialty programs.

There was some opposition. Occoquan School Board Lillie Jessies felt that Osbourn Park students were not given enough time to consider the boundary plans and respond. Three meetings were held about the boundaries at Battlefield, Stonewall Jackson and Patriot High School. O.P. students were not given early notification. She said it was possible the plan could even be illegal.

“I’m very disappointed. The O.P. community was not involved,” said Jessie. “I think it’s unfair to include them at the very last minute.”

Woodbridge representative Loree Williams agreed, and as parents have said, O.P. was recently rezoned and would be rezoned again once the 14th High School opens.

But Trenum explained that the opening of the 14th high school would only exacerbate the enrollment problem so it would be better to get ahead of it now.

William’s amendment to take the O.P. part out of Plan1B failed.

“There is time between now and the 2021 school year for O.P. to get ready for this motion,” said Satterwhite.

Demographic Concerns

Jessie noted that the demographics on Trenum’s 1B plan are not even listed, but she can assume from other projections that it would increase minority and disadvantaged students at Stonewall Jackson and O.P., not at more western schools. In most of the plans SJHS went from being 80% minority to 88%, but most concerning was the number of economically disadvantaged students rising to near 60%.

“You’ve increased the racial composition at OP, at Stonewall to almost 90%. All that money we’re going to give them is not going to make a difference; I hope it does make a difference,” said Jessie.

According to newly updated data on the Parent Portal, boundary changes would bring SJHS to 22.1% Limited English Proficiency students. O.P. is estimated to be at 15.7%. In comparison, the other three high schools would each be under 5% LEP students.

The percentage economically disadvantaged students at Stonewall Jackson will be 59.9%, 36.5% at O.P., 16.8% at the 13th High School, 14.4% at Brentsville High School, 12.7% at Patriot High School and 5.3% at Battlefield High School.

The number of minority students ranges from 88.6% at Stonewall Jackson to 35.1% at Battlefield High School.

Balancing demographics would require a vastly different map, and the school board had to weigh those needs against keeping neighborhoods close to their schools. But even Stonewall community members have begun to advocate not for creative zoning but for more assistance to Stonewall’s needs.

Neighborhood Interests

Victory Lakes got want it wanted in all plans as that neighborhood was rezoned from Stonewall Jackson to the more nearby Patriot High School. It was something the neighborhood hoped would have happened a decade ago when Patriot opened.

Many residents in the Independence Community are disappointed that they have not been redistricted but will remain at Stonewall, while their neighbor’s children north of Linton Hall Road will progress from Gainesville Middle School to the 13th High School.

They are circulating an online petition. 

One community that never got a boundary proposal it was looking for is Parks of Piedmont South. Despite being two miles from Battlefield High School, they are zoned for the 13th High School located across Route 29.

Battlefield High School is the farthest most Western Prince William High School, making it difficult to accommodate many neighborhoods east of it.

This article has been updated to include demographic information. 

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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