Bristow Beat:

The Prince William County Office of Planning and Boundaries has published two new attendance area recommendations that would move the Victory Lakes community into Brentsville District High School (BDHS).

The Victory Lakes Community in Bristow is currently zoned to attend Stonewall Jackson High School (SJHS) in Manassas, but the opening of the 12th high school makes room for students from that neighborhood to attend BDHS. As the proposed boundaries for the new high school moves students from the eastern portion of the BDHS attendance area out of BDHS, it makes room for Bristow students.

To alleviate some crowding at Patriot High School, the school division has already recommended that New Bristow Village along Route 28/Nokesville Road be rezoned to BDHS. The community of Victory Lakes along Sudley Manor Drive in Bristow has also expressed interest in having their students attend BDHS.

Supervisor of Planning and Financial Services David Beavers noted that Victory Lakes students from Marsteller Middle School would attend BDHS with their classmates from Bristow Village. He said this is something that parents seem to like about the rezoning.

However Beavers said he can not speak as to the reason Victory Lake residents want to be rezoned, and directed Bristow Beat to a community representative. The Community Manager for Victory Lakes Community Association declined to comment.

While there would be some benefits to the rezoning, there would also be some drawbacks. One is a longer drive. BDHS is almost three miles further from Victory Lakes than Stonewall Jackson High School is. However, the commute would be against traffic.

The boundary change is also beneficial to the school division, since it would solve two problems: filling seats at BDHS and alleviating crowding at SJHS. Although Stonewall is not overcrowded to the same extent as Patriot, by September of 2018, SJHS is expected to be a 112 percent capacity.

Both Plan 2.1 and Plan 2.1a would help alleviate some of that overcrowding at SJHS by reducing the student populations to 102.8 percent capacity in 2018

Let’s stop right here. Go no further.  Let’s stop pussy-footing around with the issue and just tell it like it is.  It’s a matter of class and I don’t mean the school house kind of class.  Victory Lakes is a high end, posh neighborhood for the most part.  Even the non-high end part is high end.   They don’t want their kids going to Stonewall.  Stonewall is heavily minority.  A quick glance at demographics, test scores, number of free lunches and graduation rates speaks volumes.

The Stonewall boundaries take in a high number of kids from apartments, townhouses, and the older communities.  Some of the communities I wouldn’t go through in broad daylight, just to be honest.  Part of me totally understands the Victory Lakes folks.   If I had a young family and had just bought a home in a swank neighborhood, I would expect to send my kids to go to great schools where there was little distraction associated with poverty, working class situations like free lunch, gangs, and low test scores.

I had three kids graduate from Stonewall.  It served them well, for the most part.  No place is perfect.  However, it’s not the same school it once was.  Why?  Stonewall was eclectic back in the day.  You had the inside 66 crowd, the Haymarket and Gainesville crew (the country kids) and then you had the Bull Run Mountain kids.  There was no great divide like there is now.  Remove Victory Lakes and there will be very little divide. Stonewall will just be the step-child of Prince William County Schools.

It will be up to PWCS to do a better job of balancing socio-economic groups within its boundaries in the future.  It should start right now working out plans that don’t tie one school to an old, decaying section of county.  Smart growth should include plans to upgrade the older schools and put programs in place that make them more desirable to students and parents.  An IB program just doesn’t cut it.

People have howled and carried on over a school with a swimming pool and fancy performing arts accoutrements.  Much of that vocalization has come from the Gainesville District.  I guess they are howling because they are jealous.  On the other hand, they have new schools.  Go figure.  More upgrades need to be placed in the older schools.  Stonewall would be a great place to start with some of the fancy remodeling.  Cross training equipment and recumbent bikes in the library would be a nice touch just to start with.  A little creative busing of kids would be another smart move.  Rather than pulling kids from more economically advantaged locations, ,lets add some more.  Nothing gets kids to like a school more than having one’s friends all going there.

I don’t blame Victory Lake parents.  I blame Prince William County Schools for pretending there isn’t a problem and for simply not addressing the issue.  Tell Victory Lakes no and send over some more kids from that general area to keep them company.    Keep it classy, PWCS.  Keep it classy.

8 thoughts on “Victory Lakes, PWCS: Tell the truth

  1. Mom

    “I blame Prince William County Schools for pretending there isn’t a problem and for simply not addressing the issue.”

    Welcome to the dark side of the Force.

    1. I am willing to bet I was on the dark side long before you were. I just learned over the years to choose my battles VERY carefully.

      My battles aren’t over money. Also, this issue didn’t start with this administration. The previous administration protected glaring incompetence and had select parents with certain home phone numbers. If you weren’t part of the chosen, you were toast.

  2. Censored bybvbl

    The problem isn’t limited to Victory Lakes. The kids in my neighborhood should probably go to the new pool school. It’s just a few miles down the road. But their bus will pass it on the way to Brentsville. We’re an economically mixed neighborhood in the midst of upper-middle class suburbia but our kids have been bused to Osbourn Park and now to Brentsville. A lot of the wealthier neighborhoods between us and the new school will be accommodated there. Our kids will have to ride the bus elsewhere.

    1. They will probably get sent to Stonewall.
      The county really does need to start running those buses a little more equitably. You can’t have “haves” and “Have Not” schools in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.

      The student populations must be more diversified.

      What makes it worse is programs like NCLB shine a spotlight on the inequities. Guess who gets the blame? Teachers, of course. Just the fact that the General Assembly made teacher evaluations based 40% on test scores exemplifies what I am saying.

      I believe my very own supervisor suggested that teachers be paid more money for the more challenging schools. Why are there more challenging schools? Nearly every kid in the county is bussed to high school. Why can’t these said buses work to make our schools more socio-economically diverse? Between buses and boundaries, this could all happen.

      It won’t until everyone starts telling the truth about haves and have not communities.

      Repeat after me, PWCS and Victory Lakes: We don’t want our kids to go to Stonewall. Its too poor and its too dark. There. I have said it for you.
      Deny it.

  3. Bristow Beat:

    The Department of Justice has inquired about the School Division’s proposed boundaries for the 12th county high school and/or their process for setting them.

    Phil Kavits, Director of Communications Services for Prince William County Schools, confirmed “an issue has been raised with the Department of Justice” but he was not able to be much more specific.

    Kavits said the preliminary investigation involves “the boundary process, but beyond that we don’t have any information on that and what that means.” Kavits said that he could not disclose any further information, because PWCS has not been informed about what the DOJ is specifically investigating.

    “We don’t know much more at this point except that we will completely cooperate over any concerns there may be,” Kavits said.

    This does not surprise me. There are some rather glaring apparent inequities in the proposed boundary changes that are on the table. Let’s put it this way, certain neighborhoods are being carved out so as to not “taint” the more prestigious high schools, or so it appears. As we all know, perception is reality.

    I know for a FACT that in the old days, pre-Walts days, principals would go lobby to keep certain neighborhoods that were more affluent and did the same lobbying to get rid of the neighborhoods that weren’t going to do any good for the test scores.

    I heard bragging of the bartering with my own two ears. Those principals who were in favor usually got their way. High schools and middle schools did this all the time. New schools opening up, the bordering school’s principals sprung in to action.

    Does that still go on? One can only guess. I have no idea now but considering how much more intense testing has gotten in the past decade, I would say its probably not out of the realm of possibility.

    I know I am right on Victory Lakes. I have heard people who live in the area voice that they want to have their kids in a more affluent high school.

    The problem is, it just doesn’t need to be this way. Stonewall needs some more drawing cards and some more affluency and accoutrements. Some of hat can be done with the two B’s. Buses and boundaries.

    Let’s fix it, PWCS. You can do it. Just take a strong stand. Don’t just do it at Stonewall. Do it all over so our schools don’t get bad reputations as thug schools or poor schools. Share the wealth. Share the non-wealth. There is absolutely NO reason for any school in PWC to be thought of as a ghetto school. This is something that PWCS can and must fix.

  4. honesty

    Excellent points, but I think you missed the mark a little. One neighborhood is requesting to stay in a grossly overcrowded school, they openly admitted concerns for their property value if they move to Brentsville. Another is jumping for joy that they are driving past two other high schools to attend the 12th because it will have the lowest economic disadvantaged numbers in the county. A neighborhood that fought hard to move out of Stonewall 5 years ago wants moved from Brentsville to O.P. now. No one is begging to be zoned for Freedom, Potomac, Garfield or Stonewall despite amazing programs. Potomac HS has a beautiful new addition and turf fields yet no one wants to be zoned there. It is not the skin color or fear of the students. It is in part the scores, but parents can in enroll in programs that score well or transfer out so that can’t be the sole cause. Feeder patterns would make students more loyal to their base school so it would help some. What is the real issue? Property values. When this administration fails to balance demographics it shows in the scores and the Great Schools ratings acknowledge it. Zillow acknowledges Great Schools and property values are altered. These people aren’t racist, there are all shades in these neighborhoods, they are home owners obsessed with their property values. Of course everyone that owns a home cares about property values. It is time to balance the demographics and increase property values throughout the county.

    1. I have been around this county for a long long time. It isn’t all property values. Speaking generally, and not specifically to the Stonewall issue, certain schools have bad reputations for fairly obscure reasons. They are seen as just not being “as good.”

      For example, Parkside always took a hit because it was seen as a Manassas Park school, which it was back in the day before MP went city. That perception never left. Its hard for people who haven’t been here for a million years to understand some of the stigma attached to various places and why.

      Another example, the forever war between Osbourn and Osbourn Park. Some of the war is over trophies and school culture–that type of stuff. For many years, Osbourn trumpeted over OP because of the Paqrk connection. Then about the time SOLs started having some teeth, OP became the superior school to Stonewall, in the minds of many. Of course, Stonewall fought back.

      Both OP and SJ delighted in declared superiority over Brentsville which carried the name cow-pie tech, just to name one of the less than complementary tags. Brentsville rose in status once their test scores started beating out the rest of the county, both SAT and SOL. For a long time, SJ, Brentsville, and OP were the only western end school with a barren stretch between both ends of the county. OP kids came from as far over as Cannon Bluff.

      Let’s take your argument a step further. Why does Zillow rate the property values higher of those who do not attend Stonewall? Crickets. The same reasons I stated. Look at the zip code stats. It spells it out rather clearly.

      It appears we have just come full circle. Like I said, I don’t necessarily blame the Victory Lakes folks for wanting their kids in with other middle class kids. Turning up their noses because of property values? Yea, I think that suggests something a little more than I want to be charitable with. My property values have probably taken a big hit too because *I* live in the Stonewall school district. I am just not mercenary enough to give a damn about that.

      Stepping out of the middle class often (not always) brings about social conditions that parents worry about. It might be something as simple as bad grammar, or it might be more serious–safety issues, fewer class offerings of college bound courses, gangs, and the like. I understand parents have concerns over these things, as they should. I understand also that these things are factored in during college admission time. All these things deal with your children who should be the most important thing to you.

      House value? Sorry. No sympathy. All my sympathy just flew out the window.

    2. I left out a couple of remarks, Honest. I know, its hard to believe after that diatribe.

      Much of the stigma has to deal with neighborhoods. Without being specific, Stonewall district has 2-3 seriously bad neighborhoods. So do some schools in Woodbridge. A neighborhood can really hurt a school. I think the neighborhoods should be split up and sent in different directions. It levels the playing field for all concerned.

      Also, I don’t know why anyone would turn up their noses at Brentsville HS. Despite the rivalry from the in-town schools, Brentsville always had nice kids and a minimum of discipline problems. It must be elitism or something. If I could have picked a school for my kids to go to, it would have been Brentsville.

      Back when my kids were in school, there was limited elitism…not huge pockets because all the growth was at the other end of the county.

      I prefer the good old days.

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