Fall 2021 Boundary Process FAQs

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PROCESS

Why are these changes so limited in scope?

APS staff had intended to take a more comprehensive approach to middle and high school boundary adjustments this fall.  Enrollment in July at most schools was coming in lower than the permanent facility capacity and only a few schools needed some relief.  A countywide elementary schools boundary process is planned for Fall of 2022. Staff is proposing refinements to boundaries at schools where: enrollment currently exceeds capacity and/or enrollment was at or exceeded capacity for the prior two school years, and a neighboring school has capacity to accommodate additional students.

In addition, the most recent projections data has limitations due to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. We also cannot predict the number of students returning to APS in-person school from VLP, private or home-schooling options. Participation in the Virtual learning Program also varies across schools and may change in the future in ways we cannot yet know with certainty. Additional time will improve our understanding of enrollment shifts. As a result, we are taking a cautious and limited approach in this process focusing on boundary adjustments where they are needed in the 2022-23 school year.

Why can’t Planning Units (PUs) in Boulevard Manor move to Washington-Liberty (W-L) this year as requested?

Boulevard Manor PUs are currently zoned for Yorktown, which is under capacity. In this limited process, we are proposing adjustments at high schools where enrollment currently exceeds capacity and a neighboring school has capacity to accommodate additional student. In addition, assigning too many students to W-L now could increase enrollment beyond its capacity of 2,800 as grade cohorts are added under the current boundary proposal. Additional time will improve our understanding of pandemic enrollment and the shifts in projections that will impact building capacity. As a result, we are taking a cautious and limited approach in this process focusing on boundary adjustments where they are needed in the 2022-23 school year.

Does my student have to stay at Gunston or Wakefield if our PU has been moved?

No. Students attending Gunston or Wakefield will have the choice to complete middle or high school at their current school or attend their newly assigned neighborhood school starting in the 2022-23 school year. We encourage impacted families to complete the interest form sent them on Oct. 15, 2021. This will help us reallocate enrollment and resources in projections and will connect the students to the scheduling process underway for next school year.

Why not wait until after the pandemic to change boundaries?

We want to provide enrollment relief where enrollment exceeds the school’s capacity.  In some cases, schools involved in the process have been at or above capacity since before the pandemic.

I live in one of the affected planning units but did not receive an interest form. How can I get the information?

Please email apsboundaries@apsva.us and a staff member will assist you.

Why don’t these proposals provide immediate relief for Gunston or Wakefield?

The proposals begin to provide relief and minimize the disruptions for students in the 2022-23 school year and will be phased in over  three years.  Each school’s administration will continue to manage enrollment as it changes over the three year period.

Will there be additional proposals?

At the Nov. 3 work session, proposals may be refined.  Staff will not propose adding planning units to the proposed boundary changes.

Are there waivers or exceptions available to families?

If needed, the Annual Update may provide for transfer opportunities to schools with available capacity. Wakefield, Gunston and Abingdon will not be able to accept transfers. 

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DATA

What data or projections have you used to determine the need for new boundaries?

Multiple data sources were considered in the planning for the Fall 2021 boundary process, including:

    • 2020 3-year projections,
    • Spring Update for 2021-22,
    • Planning Unit data, Housing forecast data,
    • 30, 2021 enrollment, and
    • enrollment in the Virtual Learning program

The most recent projections data (2020 3-yr, Spring 2021 Update & Planning Unit) has limitations due to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. We also cannot predict the number of students returning to APS in-person school from VLP, private or home-schooling options. Participation in the Virtual learning Program also varies across schools and may change in the future in ways we cannot yet predict with confidence.  Additional time will improve our understanding of pandemic enrollment and the shifts in projections that will impact building capacity.

Why are you moving students out of Abingdon if it’s not overcapacity this year?

Abingdon has been over or at capacity since before the pandemic, opening at 104% capacity in 2019, 100% capacity in 2022 and a current capacity utilization is at 95%.  Dr. Charles R. Drew is currently at 64% capacity utilization with space to accommodate additional students. More information available at www.apsva.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/2021-10-21-Sept-30-Fall-2021-Boundary-Process-Data-Tables.xlsx

Won’t this proposal increase the Free and Reduced Lunch (F/RL) rate at Drew?

The impact on the Free and Reduced Lunch rate (using the 2019 data) and Race/Ethnicity at Drew is modest, moving only one or two percentage points.  The Abingdon F/RL rate (using 2019 data) declines two percentage points, staying close to the County average.

Would the relocatables at Abingdon be removed after the boundary change?

This is reviewed annually, and relocatables will be removed once enrollment fits within the permanent facility.

Does the projected number of students in the PU level data include 100% of the resident students or does it exclude those students who attend option schools?

The data from Sept. 2021 enrollment excludes students attending option schools or programs.

How do these changes affect the socio-economic differences at the schools involved?

In the Abingdon/Drew proposal the impact on the Free and Reduced Lunch rate (using the 2019 data) and Race/Ethnicity at Drew is modest, moving only one or two percentage points. The Abingdon F/RL rate (using 2019 data) declines two percentage points, staying close to the County average.

In the Gunston/Jefferson proposal the estimated F/RL rates (using 2019 data) would move a point at each school, both remain close to the County average, and no racial/ethnic groups move more than a percentage point or two.

In the Wakefield/W-L proposal the estimated F/RL rates (using data from 2019) show no change and no other demographic groups see notable change in proportion. More information available at www.apsva.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/2021-10-21-Sept-30-Fall-2021-Boundary-Process-Data-Tables.xlsx

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GRANDFATHERING

What grandfathering is proposed?

Gunston/Wakefield 

APS staff are proposing a grandfathering provision that allows students attending Gunston who are currently in 6th or 7th grade to remain at Gunston through completion of 8th grade or can attend their newly assigned neighborhood school (Jefferson) beginning in the 2022-23 school year.  Students attending Wakefield who are currently in grades 9-11 can remain at Wakefield through completion of 12th grade or can attend their newly assigned neighborhood school (Washington-Liberty) beginning in the 2022-23 school year.  Younger siblings of current Gunston and Wakefield students are not eligible for grandfathering and must attend the newly assigned neighborhood school. Transfer students and those participating in countywide option programs may continue at their current schools and/or program

Abingdon

APS staff are proposing a grandfathering provision that allows students who are currently in the 4th grade—and who will be in the 5th grade in the 2022-23 school year—to remain at Abingdon if they choose. Students who are eligible to remain at Abingdon due to grandfathering would have the choice to attend their newly assigned neighborhood school (Dr. Charles R. Drew) for the 2022-2023 school year.   APS is collecting information from families to determine if siblings of current 4th graders who are concurrently enrolled at Abingdon can be accommodated and offered the option to remain at Abingdon for the 2022-23 school year. Note that siblings would need to attend Dr. Charles R. Drew beginning at the start of the 2023-24 school year. This information will be collected on the form sent to pre-K to 3rd students at Abingdon.

We encourage families to complete the form to will help us reallocate enrollment and resources in projections and will connect the students to the scheduling process underway for next school year.

The 2020 boundary process didn’t grandfather siblings.  Why are you able to do this for Abingdon to Drew in this process?

We are currently collecting information from families to determine whether we can accommodate siblings for the 2022-2023 school year.  At the Nov. 3 Work Session, staff will provide an update on the requests and suggest if additions students (based on requests) can be accommodated.

Will transportation be offered if my student elects to stay at their current school when grandfathering is offered?

Yes. APS transportation will be available via hub stops for grandfathered students.

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IB

Does the added capacity mean the IB program will grow forever?

The number of IB seats offered via the lottery is reviewed annually and can be increased or decreased if needed. For example, if enrollment at Yorktown increases and a future boundary change adds more students from Yorktown to W-L, then the number of IB seats could be reduced to offset the boundary change.

By starting with limited boundary changes, we can monitor and determine if the IB levels should adjusted. If additional relief is needed at another high school next year, the Annual Update will consider offering targeted transfers for more students from a crowded high school to attend W-L.

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ENGAGEMENT

Where should I send my questions?

Please send your questions to engage@apsva.us.  Your questions will be forwarded to the staff working on the boundary processes.

When will community meetings be held?

All of the community meetings will be held virtually. More information about the community engagement events can be found at https://www.apsva.us/engage/fall-2021-boundary-process/#21timeline .

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