Arlington Citizen-Journal

Southwest Arlington parents object to school boundary changes

Boundary changes that affect 10 Arlington district elementary schools and are the result of two schools becoming special-purpose academies and a new campus opening in 2015 got all thumbs ups from school trustees last week.

In southwest Arlington, long-standing boundaries affecting Wood and Moore elementary schools were redrawn to absorb the Corey attendance zone. Corey will become a dual-language/fine arts academy with the 2015 kindergarten class.

Trustees also approved boundary changes at several east Arlington schools in order to turn Roquemore into a dual-language/fine arts academy and open a new elementary school next year.

The Roquemore plan did not draw opposition, though there were concerns about students crossing busy highways and the fate of teachers being reassigned. Parents were reported to be appreciative for relief from overcrowding and a glut of temporary classrooms.

Moore and Wood parents, however, did not want their children to be forced to change schools. They also worry that Corey’s loss as a conventional campus will spur overcrowding.

Ryan Walton, a boundary committee member representing Moore parents, brought with him 3 1/2 pages of concerns expressed at the parent meetings. Of those, 2 1/2 pages were issues from Moore parents.

“I’d like to hear these addressed,” Walton told the board before the vote. “I’d like to hear this tabled tonight for more discussion.”

Moore parents fear possible overcrowding from a remote, pie-shaped section of apartments now in the Wood zone.

“The parents at Moore are pretty upset,” Walton said as he left the meeting, adding that he was not happy with the board’s approval of the changes.

Trustees responded to some concerns during discussion before their vote.

“I’m not understanding the concerns of the Moore parents,” said Gloria Peña. “Is there a problem with the apartments?”

“It was less about the apartments themselves as it was about the capacity for sudden enrollment increase,” said Michael Hill, assistant superintendent for administration, who presented a slide show about the boundary plans.

Some 81 students now in the apartments would continue attending Wood, and six have younger siblings that will also go to Wood. Moore would receive only three incoming kindergartners next year that have no ties to Wood. The apartments are located off U.S. 287 just south of Interstate 20.

Hill added that Wood officials report no delinquency or behavioral problems relating to students from the apartment sector, nor have they experienced spikes in attendance from the area.

The present Corey attendance zone will be split between Wood and Moore, with Green Oaks Boulevard as the dividing line. Everything east of that section of Green Oaks will be in the Wood zone, and everything west of it will be in the Moore zone.

Those schools’ original zones will remain intact, except for the apartment section, which has always been separated from Wood by the entire Corey attendance zone. Now it will be part of the Moore zone.

Any new students moving into that area with no ties to Wood will attend Moore.

Since current Corey students will finish up at their campus, enrollment numbers at the three schools won’t be changing dramatically. Academy students will be added one grade at a time as traditional students move to junior high. Students district-wide will be able to apply for admission to either of the two academies starting next year.

Corey’s enrollment of 618 is expected to jump to 627 next fall with the inclusion of 140 new academy students at the kindergarten level. That figure is slightly more than the usual enrollment of new kindergartners.

Moore, with 670 students, is expected to drop to 658 next year, despite 38 extra kindergartners who would have gone to Corey. Wood, at 726 now, will be up to 764 with their share of the Corey kindergartners, also estimated at 38.

All three schools have room to grow, with student capacities ranging from 935 to 990. Student enrollment in the area is in decline as the neighborhood population ages. Between Wood and Moore, there are 12 to 16 unused classrooms, Hill said.

The issue of providing transportation from the apartments to two schools instead of one, and how many current Corey, Wood and Moore students might be accepted at the academy, were other concerns.

“As schools change boundaries, there are always a lot of unknowns and a lot of fear,” Trustee John Hibbs said.