Fairfax County Public Schools: On redistricting in Springfield and what it tells us


    Much of the conversation on boundary changes throughout Fairfax County Public Schools focuses on overcrowding. But the reassignment of Springfield’s Daventry subdivision, which The Springfield Connection reported on earlier this month, demonstrates how vast and diverse our County really is–how vastly circumstances vary between districts and how diverse the County’s needs are.

    Starting next year, students from Daventry, who attend West Springfield Elementary, will continue through Irving Middle and West Springfield High Schools with their peers. Before the change, Daventry residents attended Lee High School; the reassignment spares students grief in an already difficult transition.

    But it’s worth noting that the reassignment was only possible due to declining enrollment at West Springfield High. A decade ago, with the school at capacity, the initiative failed. So while the Superintendent and School Board should be commended for their decision–and, more importantly, for consulting residents and FCPS personnel–the Daventry case should motivate them to act more proactively.

    Rather than wait for circumstances to change, the School Board might consider the root causes of enrollment instability. Board members can continue working around overcrowding and under-enrollment, but a serious inquiry into residential and commercial development is necessary for more effective action to be weighed earlier. Although it has no decision-making power in such development cases, the School Board has an obligation to hear and make heard the voices of those they represent. This requires engagement with students and staff, but also with decision-making bodies–the Board of Supervisors, namely.

    It would only be appropriate: after their budget battle in May, both Boards vowed to improve their relationship for the County’s good. What better way to hold them accountable than to elect candidates with proven collaborative drive and public service experience? With both Boards up for election in November, there’s no need to wait another decade.

    Omar Fateh, a lifelong Fairfax County resident and a former Academic Advisor at Northern Virginia Community College, is running for Fairfax County School Board (At-Large).

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