Some parents of students at Haycock Elementary School in McLean remain disheartened about what they say are lackluster efforts by the Fairfax County School Board to alleviate crowding at the school.
Nearly 200 parents and community members attended a meeting at Haycock Elementary School late last month to discuss facilities for the school’s 962 students, which is roughly 65 percent over its core capacity of 579 students.
In 2009, modular buildings were added to accommodate the overflow. The school currently utilizes 22 of these outdoor classrooms, most of which contain no plumbing, hallways or connection to the main school building. The crowding has also caused the school to no longer accept new students.
“The school is completely closed right now,” said FCPS board member Janie Strauss, who was in attendance at the October meeting. “No new students are coming in. They are being diverted to Churchill Road Elementary.”
A current plan to renovate the school by adding two additions onto the existing 10-acre property by August of 2015 is being called woefully inadequate by some parents because it is projected to allow the school to accommodate only 877 students, fewer than the school’s current student population.
A grassroots group calling itself “Build for Haycock’s Future” has created a petition intended to pause the process, and instead give significant consideration to viable alternatives, including land purchase and re-zoning, that they say will better meet the community’s needs. Nearly 1,000 community members have so far signed the petition.
At the October meeting, FCPS board member Janie Strauss told parents she would consider pursuing rezoning options for the school.
During a PTA meeting at the school on Wednesday, Principal Kelly Sheers relayed a message to parents from Strauss about that effort.
“Ms. Strauss acknowledged our growing general education and advanced academics population and indicated that there will be future programmatic changes to ensure we fit into the new building,” she said. “In summary, the county will pursue an R-2 zoning, [but only] once we begin our renovation in 2012-13. The R-2 would be for ‘future use.’ In essence, if we are unable to fit into the newly designed building, R-2 zoning would allow us to keep the modular units and/or build a second level to the new addition”.
Sheers went on to say that the school’s Renovation Committee was hopeful to make some small changes to the design plan. However, because of the current R-1 zoning, the school is limited in making any adjustments.
“No additional classrooms or square footage adjustments in the current design can be made,” she said. “Once we are into the actual renovation and are granted the R-2 zoning, Ms. Strauss…indicated that minor adjustments could possibly be made.”
Many parents, who wanted immediate action and were hoping for an R-3 zoning designation to accommodate a student body of upward of 1,200, were disappointed with the news.
“Janie basically changed her mind on all points of working with the Haycock community to make any attempt to change this renovation plan,” said parent Connie Rooke. “She flat out refused to pursue re-zoning now. She refused to consider any changes to the current proposed renovation plan.”
Strauss did not attend Wednesdays’ PTA meeting at the school, but she addressed the issue in a phone interview that same evening.
“An R-3 building of that size, while accommodating a student body of upwards of 1,200, would most likely require changes in storm water management, parking, a relocation of utilities and street improvements and a loss of green space,” she said. “FCPS does not think an elementary school of that size is the best environment for young children. Additional elementary schools will be built to help alleviate the growth in the Tysons area and we will apply for zoning for future use.”
Strauss said that in addition, many students in the Marshall High School Pyramid will be moved to newly constructed classrooms at other locations instead of attending Haycock.
“We are already in the process of building many new classrooms at locations such as Westgate and Lemon Road elementary schools,” she said.
“The parents at Haycock are crushed ... we have tried so hard to trust Janie, only to be failed once again,” Rooke said.
“She told us all in October that she would take action to alter the currently proposed plan at our request, and now she says they will not do anything until the proposed construction process has already begun.”