Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Stafford School Board to consider redistricting students

The Stafford County school system is considering redistricting students to relieve overcrowding at Hartwood and Rocky Run elementary schools.  A redistricting committee of principals, administrators and parents came up with 12 options. You can check out options one through six here and options seven through 12 here.

Click here to view a presentation on the overcrowding concerns at Hartwood and Rocky Run.

I’ll have a story with more information in Sunday’s paper.


  • Hollerback

    I think this is a good idea across the county and is becoming a critical necessity. This would surely upset a lot of people who have always been dead set against the idea, but would solve a lot of the attendance zone disparity that we have in several of the schools in the north end of the county. Would also put to rest the “myth” that there are 5,000 empty seats in our schools.

  • Dennis Silver

    Having grown up in what was rural Stafford Cty in the 70s and 80s, I must say that I think you will only get more complaints about the redistricting than compliments. I lived near Olde Forge, and went to Falmouth ES, the old Gayle Middle behind Arby’s off Rt 17, and Stafford High at Cranes Corner which had split shifts and 3200 students in the bldg then. All the schools were crowded and outdated all those years too. Until the residents of Stafford elect responsible officials who can manage the county and schools efficiently, overcrowding will always be a problem in the schools. And all you good folks think a 30 minute bus ride is too long? I often had 45 minute or longer rides. So no sympathy from me at all.

  • Anthony

    I believe redistricting the schools would be a smart move… Rocky Run was built for the residence of Stafford Lakes Village to ease the overcrowding of nearby schools..

  • Concerned Mom

    This is unquestionably the fall out of not building ES08. The children affected are those that would logically have gone to that elementary school, had it been built when it was supposed to have been built. Unfortunately, we now are faced with a crisis and must act in a reactive mode instead of having been proactive. There are many, many children on buses already for an hour or more and that is not going to change any time soon, nor will it improve with this redistricting. The challenges in our schools today are different than they were years ago and we must provide an environment in which our children can learn. Hallways and foyers are unacceptable. As it is, children are starting lunch in the 10 o’clock hour through the 1:00 hour. There are as many as 3 PE classes being conducted simultaneously, fully utilizing the activities room, outdoor facilities and even the stage. Itinerant teachers have to be brought in from other schools in order to ensure that all kids have pe, art and music. Kids now have library every two weeks instead of weekly because there is just not enough time in the week to rotate all the kids through. And, kids do not have enough time on computers because there in only one lab and 3 mac carts, which is allocated at the building level regardless of how many students are in each school. So students in a school with half the enrollment have twice the access as kids in an over-crowded school. This will become a bigger issue as SOL writing tests are done on the computer. Our kids need more access to these resources and the more kids you put in a school, the less frequently they will have such access. It’s not just about how many kids you can stuff in a building, it is about providing the necessary services so that they can effectively learn and succeed given the infrastucture constraints.

  • Stafford Teacher/Mom

    Concerned Mom, you are so right! But, not only do we need another elementary school, Stafford County needs a 6th high school – a replacement of the 36 year old Stafford High School. The Chemistry teacher at SHS is on a cart and she teaches AP Chemistry without a lab!!! Teachers at SHS cannot even use the technology that is available because the electrical system is antiquated and many classrooms do not have enough room for the students, much less a laptop cart. Services available to students must be equal at all schools. In Stafford County, however, that is not the case whether your child is in an elementary school or a high school.

  • Concerned Mom

    Stafford Teacher/Mom – could not agree more!

  • Stafford Lakes Mom

    Rocky Run ES was NOT built only for Stafford Lakes. Even tho I reside there……Cardinal Forest is across the street and houses over 300 homes……the simple fact of the matter is that we need another ES. No question. ES08 was a huge mistake in NOT building it. The ramifications are now CRYSTAL CLEAR! Please BOS and SB members…make the clear and right decision……redistrict now and give us another ES ASAP. We do need another HS as well. If you look at the county map of where all the schools are placed…you’ll notice NO High School at the southern end of the county. We NEED WESTLAKE HIGH SCHOOL!!! PLEASE!!!

  • Xtina

    In all the Stafford County Planning meetings regarding UDAs and building 4,000 more homes in the county, where is the talk of schools? There is a UDA located in the Stafford Gateway area including the Auto Auction off Rt 17, and that is the area directly affecting Rocky Run and Falmouth. The County is considering 1,200 homes there. Not to mention the new Rappahannock Landing Townhomes being built in Olde Forge. Where is the missing link between the Planning Dept. and the BOS/SB? Why aren’t plans for new schools included in with 4,000 new homes? The developers should help with infrastructure INCLUDING schools and parks (don’t get me STARTED on how there are no parks in this area…) so please in addition to voicing your concerns to the BOS, and the SB, we HAVE to get the County Planning department to be involved in this discussion.

  • Worried Mom Stafford Lakes

    Mr Silver, With all due respect the children of today have much more learning responsibility than those of us who grew up in the 70sand 80s. They are required to spend most of their time learning so they can pass the SOLS, they are required to learn technology and use technology in their everyday lives. When we were going to school computers were just getting started, and you didn’t use one until you took an elective in high school or went to college. Children are being pushed to learn and more concepts earlier in their school lives as well. The kids have much more homework than we did, at a much younger age. Simply put we cannot make comparisons to the 70s and 80s. Most children also are not growing up in households with a stay at home parent, and worse most of the parents in this area have to spend hours every day on the roads commuting in gridlock. Time is therefore a commodity and anything that increases the amount of travel time for any student is a detriment to their learning capacity, and family time. Not to mention time for extracurricular activities. Therefore in addition to the impacts of overcrowding in schools that have been mentioned and discussed, making children spend 30-45 min on a bus every morning and every afternoon simply to bus them cross county because the SB and planning depts failed to plan properly for the growth in this county is simply unacceptable!

  • Dana

    It’s very complicated. But, at first review I recommend Option #12.

    Garrisonville Elem (GES) is way under capacity and needs to take their share of the load distrubution. From what I can tell, this option looks as if it leaves The Gables subdivision at Margaret Brent (MBES) which is almost accross the street from MBES. The other GES options don’t appear to. No matter what, I think The Gables should stay at Margaret Brent. Disclaimer:
    I do not live in the Gables.

    My child’s school takes 133 new kids on every option.

  • Dean Fetterolf

    New newly approved Comp Plan has an ES scheduled for 2013. HS#6 and a CTE facility are listed as 2010 and 2011 but are not even on the county Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Plan till 2016-17. (Those two facilities were to have been completed by now if they stuck to the schedule 5-6 years ago) CIPs are to be an integral part of a Comp Plan. Why the disconnect?

    Long term problems, short term thinking.

    Time for the largest voting block in Stafford, the parents of nearly 27,000 students, to wake up.

    Elect BOS members who support schools.

  • Rob

    I don’t mind taking on kids from another school but I’m not for moving my kid from a school that is under capacity.

  • jjvjack

    This is a terrible idea. They are suggesting that over 600 students should be shuffled around. The actuallity is that only 150 or so students need to be moved to provide relief to the overcrowding. My family is directly affected. Why should my children have to be uprooted and moved to a school with overcrowding and dated facilities? We moved to our specific school district to provide them with the best academic eniviroment. I do feel for parents who have an overcrowding issue, but the answer is not to be made from the expense of another. Alot of the overcrowding is due to new construction, many of the parents knew that their children would have this particular issue in the district that they purchased their home. And if they were not aware it is not my problem that they did not do their homework. Stafford County needs to move the 150 kids who are affected. Not create new school districts and move kids from their teachers, friends,and familiar surroundings. It makes no sense that my kids may have to move from an uncrowded school that is 2 miles away to one that is 5 miles away and has an overcrowding issue. Who are the ones that are going to suffer the most? Those that have to move to a new school no matter what due to overcrowding or those that have no overcrowding and are being pushed out of their schools to make room someone else? We need a solution that involves common sense………

  • 3kids

    jjvjack…..Could not agree with you more. When my husband and I were looking for homes we bought our home based on the school that our children would attend. We also paid a lot more for our house based on that. We could have gotten a much nicer home for a lot cheaper had we of bought in a different school district. We however put our children first and decided to buy a moderately sized older house because we cared more about our childrens education. Every child is importantant regardless of where they live but to take my child out of their school to put someone else in, this makes me furious. You are the first person who feels the same way as me. I was beginning to wonder why no body else was feeling this way. There are many social and economic factors that need to be addresed. When I was trying to find the best area to live in I did a lot of research I choose my area based on the fact that I wanted my children going to school with other children from the same social and economic background. All this redistricting will change that. Many people will be upset with me for saying this but the truth is children from some of the schools have behavior and learning issues that will directly affect my childs education. Sad but true. Many of you will commment and not agree but those are the same parents that bought their homes without doing research on the area or school they were buying a home in.

  • GS

    It has come to my attention that the Stafford County School Board is drafting some redistricting options that supposedly are aimed at the overcrowding issue at Rocky Run, and Hartwood Elementary schools.

    It is my understanding that some of the Stafford elementary schools have limited available space at some grade levels to accommodate a limited number of children from overcrowded schools to provide “short term” relief until permanent solutions such as an additional elementary school is built and renovations already underway at other schools are complete.

    Unfortunately the plans being considered make no logical sense as every option has children being swapped out from their near capacity schools to make room for a student from a different school and placing the near capacity school student right back into what was previously described as an overcrowded school and negating any overcrowding relief at the school.

    There is also no breakdown of “student swapping” by grade level, only by community and therefore does not account for how many of the students being swapped out are in certain grades. This could create overcrowding by certain grades at each school. This could also overwhelm the special needs programs of affected schools, etc.

    Of the parents who have been present at school meetings to voice their concerns, the overwhelming consensus is that the proposed plans seem to have very little to do with relieving overcrowding in certain schools and more to do with swapping out certain communities and areas. The plans make no logical sense to do student “swapping” and the numbers do not add up to significant relief.

    There will be many parents who will be pacified by believing their children are not currently affected by these plans, but they do not see the big picture, they miss the fact that the school board may decide to pick and choose communities to “swap out” as they see fit. “Swapping” out students does nothing but create unnecessary stress and emotional trauma on young children potentially stunting their intellectual and social development.

    As a Veteran of the US Marine Corps our family understands the effects of being uprooted. We made the decision to make our roots here in Stafford and allow our children the opportunity to become a part of their school, and to grow with it and make lifelong friends. Our children are proud of their school, they love their school and the entire experience of going to school. Swapping risks creating a group of children who are jaded, and loose that zeal for school.

    Parents, before you decide that this doesn’t affect you I ask that you consider the consequences of “swapping” out children while evaluating these plans. What agenda does this serve, and how does it correct the actual issue of overcrowding?

    Allowing children near established bus routes in an overcrowded school to move to a school where space is available is one thing, but prying a young child out of their environment to “swap” out with another fixes nothing; it is irresponsible, and inconceivable.

  • Perplexed Parent

    After reviewing these plans I am confused at what the actual agenda is as it does not appear to have anything to do with relieving overcrowding.

    Take a look at the numbers and the focus on free and reduced lunch children. What would free and reduced lunch have to do with relieving overcrowding?

    Why would the focus be on swapping kids out rather than just moving kids from a crowded school to a school with space?