The Fairfax County School Board has both a legislative and a governance responsibility to review its own policies.
Review of Boundary Policy 8130
The Fairfax County School Board is in the process of reviewing Policy 8130, Facilities Planning, Local School Boundaries, Program Assignments, and School Closings.
In July 2019, the Board requested the Superintendent hire an outside consultant to work with the Board to identify best practices in boundary policy and engage the community in the discussion.
Boundary Policy Review Community Meetings
MGT Consulting Group (MGT), an education consulting firm, held three virtual community meetings to share information about the boundary policy review and collected stakeholder input via a survey. The meetings were held on September 13, 14 and 20. The survey closed on September 24, 2021.
No specific boundary changes were discussed at the meetings.
MGT Consulting will present their report to the School Board in December 2021.
In 2018, the School Board began discussions regarding the FCPS boundary Policy 8130. The Facilities Planning Advisory Council (FPAC) annual report (page 10, recommendation 23), requests the School Board develop recommendations for updating the boundary policies and processes. FPAC is a committee of citizens appointed by the School Board.
The School Board has held four work sessions to discuss boundary policy (October 15, 2018, February 25, 2019, March 11, 2019, and July 22, 2019). All of the meetings have been advertised and open to the public.
The review of the boundary policy was initiated because of the following issues:
- Overcrowding at several schools
- Recognition that the current level of bond funding is not sufficient to address capacity demands, renovations (currently a 37-year cycle) and major maintenance in a timely manner
- Reliance on trailers (over 750)
- Planned growth in specific areas of the county
- Demand for additional pre-k classrooms
- The current boundary policy has not had a comprehensive review since its 1986 adoption. The county and the school system were significantly smaller at that time.
A modification that allowed a single board member and the Superintendent to make boundary changes impacting 5% or less of a school annually was introduced in 2000 and an expedited process was included in the regulation in October 2015. In 2018, the Superintendent stopped that less than transparent approach.
The One Fairfax policy, adopted in 2017, commits the county and schools to intentionally consider equity when delivering policies, programs, and services.
July 22, 2019 School Board Work Session
FCPS staff presented a draft policy in which "capacity surplus or deficit of an existing school" was listed as a reason to revise school boundaries.
The draft policy does not recommend moving students outside of their communities to balance districts based on racial and socioeconomic criteria.
The draft policy does not recommend "open boundaries" which would allow students to enroll in schools other than their base school.
The existing and proposed boundary policy includes the consideration of criteria such as walking and busing routes, travel times, and socio-economics.
FCPS provides transportation services for 139,000 eligible students every day to and from their neighborhood schools or to special programs away from their base schools.
While the majority (76%) of the bus routes in FCPS allow students to spend less than 30 minutes in transit each way, the increased roadway congestion and length of bus rides continues to concern the School Board.
School Board Requested the Superintendent:
- Hire an outside consultant to work with the Board to identify best practices in boundary policy and engage the community in the discussion.
- Identify "hot" areas of overcrowding that are not included in the current FCPS Capital Improvement Program but may need a boundary adjustment.
The School Board understands the sensitivity of discussing boundary policy and is committed to continuing its work in a transparent manner which involves the community. In the event that specific proposals for changing school boundaries are considered, they will continue to be done in a transparent manner that includes community engagement.
Boundary Fact Sheet
The information on this page is included on this printable version of the Boundary Fact Sheet.