Overcrowding leads to new boundary lines for Prince William County schools

Prince William County Public Schools have seen so much growth that its elementary schools are overcrowded. The school district is set to open Rosemount Lewis Elementary in Manassas for the 2023-2024 school year. 

"A school only has so large of a media center, so large of a cafeteria, so large of a gymnasium, so all of those things make it a little bit harder than necessary for the teachers and staff and parents and students," explained Dr. Matthew Cartlidge, supervisor of planning for Prince William County Schools.

The seven elementary schools that make up the Sudly area of Manassas use a total of 24 portable classrooms. Cartlidge says the buildings can no longer accommodate the number of kids who need them. Drop-off and pick-up areas are congested and mealtimes run together because so many kids need to eat. 

The committee that redrew the lines included parent volunteers from each of the neighborhoods impacted. The school district says their input is what helped the committee decide to recommend the second of two plans to the school board. 

In all, seven schools will have their lines redrawn impacting around a thousand kids. According to the committee’s report, Loch Lomond Elementary school will see the biggest reduction. It was projected to be at 120% capacity by next school year but instead will reach 97%. Sinclair Elementary was expected to be at 117% capacity, but the new lines will put the school also at 97%. 

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Rosemount Elementary, which will eventually be renamed, is set to hold around 500 students in the first year and grow over the next few years. 

The school district held community meetings in person and virtually and says the process was less controversial than many of the other times school lines have been redrawn. 

Many parents engaged in the process and in the end were happy with the suggested plan but still said they would miss their kids' current schools. 

"They are doing their job. They are advocates for their children and we completely respect that," Cartlidge said. "They become part of the community. They identify with the teachers, with the administration there and change is hard even if it's positive change, change is hard." 

The committee presented the plan to the school board Wednesday night. The board will deliberate over two weeks and then hold a public hearing and vote on January 18. 

You can view a copy of the plan here