The Stafford County School Board is scrapping one of three new plans for redistricting the division's 17 elementary schools and asking for changes to the remaining two. 

At a special called meeting following a work session Thursday night, the board voted to throw out plan D—which only one member, Garrisonville District representative Pamela Yeung, liked best—retain plans C and E and submit proposed adjustments to those plans to Superintendent Scott Kizner by Monday at noon. 

Plan C, which was based on a radius approach identifying the closest school to each area planning unit, was the favorite of George Washington District member Dewayne McOsker and Falmouth District member Sarah Chase. 

Board Chairwoman and Rock Hill District representative Patricia Healy, Aquia representative Irene Egan and Hartwood representative Holly Hazard preferred plan E.

Jaime Decatur, the Griffis–Widewater representative, said she had no preference for any of the three plans because her district stayed the same in all of them.

But she presented ARCBridge, the consulting firm hired to make the redistricting plans, with her own plan for the schools in her district, mainly aimed at keeping the Hampton Oaks neighborhood children at Hampton Oaks Elementary. 

"I'm really appreciative that Aquia Harbour was kept together in these plans, but Aquia Harbour was spared at the cost of Hampton Oaks," Decatur said. "Nobody is happy with that.

"It would be a shame if everybody else said, 'We're going to move these two plans forward' and you're not giving my constituents a choice," she continued, adding that she spent hours over the previous several days driving around her district, talking to constituents and making her plan. 

Though the other board members had preferences for one plan over the others, all had requests for changes, though apparently their requests were not as detailed as Decatur's. 

Chase said she would like to keep the Olde Forge neighborhood at Rocky Run Elementary School, instead of moving them to Conway as Plan E would.  

"This group of kids has been at Rocky Run for a long time and they're kids who are more at risk, and being someplace where faculty and staff know them is something that I like about [plan C]," she said. 

Yeung said she wants to see the two planning units in the Hampton Oaks neighborhood that are slated to go to Park Ridge Elementary School in both plans C and E stay at Hampton Oaks Elementary. 

But she emphasized that she is frustrated because, "I have four schools in my district that I'm worried about and nothing is working for me."

Egan said she would ask for the plans to be adjusted to keep the neighborhoods of Brooksmill Estates, Windermere and Poplar Hills at Stafford Elementary instead of moving them to Grafton Village. 

"They're part of a community," she said. "Driving down to Grafton makes no sense to me."

Residents of those neighborhoods have mounted a strong campaign for staying at Stafford Elementary, with six people speaking against being moved at the School Board's regular meeting on Tuesday.

Egan said that instead of moving the Brooke Road neighborhoods, she would prefer to move residents of the new Abberly Apartments, who she said are likely to be more "transient."

"I don't like disrupting a community that has roots in favor of a brand-new community that just came in and is probably going to move in two years," she said.

Egan also questioned data that projected only 20 students from the 288-unit Abberly apartment complex.

Healy also said she had issues with the attendance projections, citing estimates of increasing attendance from Augustine despite the fact that the neighborhood is fully built out.

Matt Townsend, division supervisor of planning and GIS, said estimates of increased attendance are a result of that neighborhood being in a "high-growth" area of the Courthouse Road corridor.

"That planning unit is being impacted by the surrounding area," he said. "The smaller pieces are impacted inherently by the larger pieces."

Healy said that is "concerning."

"I think a significant amount of growth for Winding Creek [the school Augustine kids now attend and would be moved out of] is coming from other [unbuilt] subdivisions that may end up going to another school," she said.

She said she would request that the neighborhoods of Amyclae, Berkshire and Augustine North stay at Winding Creek. 

Kizner cautioned the board that, though they do have the money, "We have completely exceeded our agreement with the consultant." 

The contract signed with ARCBridge in October states that the school board will pay $41,610 for "services, materials and equipment." It does not state specifically how many plans the money would buy. ARCBridge's original proposal was for 3 to 5 plans. 

"We're in the process of negotiating each additional plan," Kizner said.

The board has another work session on March 7, followed by two public hearings on the plans, one March 13 at North Stafford High School and one March 14 at Stafford High School. 

There will be a third work session March 21 and the final vote is scheduled to occur March 26. 

Adele Uphaus-Conner: 540/735-1973


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