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Fairfax County School Board puts Glasgow Middle School boundary changes on hold

Glasgow Middle School in Lincolnia (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Though it’s near full capacity, the Fairfax County School Board has chosen not to proceed with boundary adjustments for Lincolnia’s Glasgow Middle School.

Instead, they’re betting on a broader, “holistic” approach to boundary changes that could reduce overcrowding across all schools.

With two abstentions, the school board voted 7-3 last Thursday (March 21) to reject a staff proposal to decrease Glasgow Middle School’s population from 1,722 students to 1,350. The plan would’ve redirected incoming students to other nearby middle schools, including Poe, Holmes and Jackson.

The board’s decision came a month after they moved to prioritize boundary adjustments for Parklawn Elementary School in Lincolnia and Lutie Lewis Coates Elementary School in Herndon, which staff anticipated will exceed total capacity within four to five years.

At their Feb. 8 meeting, several board members stressed they would only back boundary adjustments for Parklawn and Coates with the understanding they will be the final instances, highlighting the need for a comprehensive review of current boundary adjustment policies.

The school board’s governance committee is actively reviewing its policies and aims to present a draft of recommendations for potential adoption by the full board later this spring.

At their March 21 meeting, several board members voted against the Glasgow boundary study based on their commitment in February to withhold support for any further adjustments until a broader strategy was approved.

“I made a commitment to all the board members here when we had that discussion that we have to look at this holistically,” Franconia District representative Marcia St. John-Cunning said.

“I know teachers at Glasgow…I understand the situation,” she continued. “I have situations like that in my district, but we have to look at this holistically if we’re going to tackle this problem. And be equitable and fair, and considerate, and look at the entire county, not just one district.”

Student capacity and membership levels at Glasgow Middle School and other area schools (via FCPS)

Mason District representative Ricardy Anderson clarified that the proposal before the board members was not a final plan, but rather, a proposal to narrow the scope of the boundary adjustment, which has been under discussion since last fall. Staff had recommended taking some Advanced Academic Programs out of consideration.

Had the board approved the motion, a public hearing would have still been necessary before the board could formally adopt any changes.

Anderson — one of just three returning members after last November’s election — also pointed out that the previous school board had asked staff to look into adjusting Glasgow’s boundaries, which are in her district, and that this process has already been going on for a few years.

“Glasgow currently has 1,722 kids. Holmes has 883 fewer kids. Poe has 832 fewer kids. It’s twice the size of those other schools within a 3-mile area,” she said. “This is not a new conversation. It is not going to usurp or upset or be out of alignment with any pending future work.”

Yet, when probed about her stance on the Glasgow proposal with a more comprehensive strategy for boundary changes in motion, Superintendent Michelle Reid indicated she no longer backed it.

“If you’re asking today whether I think that this [boundary adjustment] is in our best interest to move forward with, in light of the holistic work…I would not recommend doing that,” Reid said. “I think it would be better subsumed under a more holistic work.”

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