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.