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Brief Overview of FCPS in Reston

:
Planning for Tomorrow

Prepared for
The Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force

By:

The Residence, Urban Design and Livability Work Group
Reston 2020 Committee
Reston Citizens Association

June 1, 2010

Residence, Urban Design & Livability Work Group
Kathy Kaplan, Co-Chair
Dick Rogers, Co-Chair
Jennifer Byl
John Carter
Mike Corrigan
Fred Costello
Paul Darmory
Bill Dingell
Dave Edwards
Joe Leighton
Terry Maynard
Stephanie Mirabello
Bryan Moll
Richard Newlon
Bill Penniman
Tammi Petrine
Terri Phillips
Holli Ploog
Wendye Quaye
Guy Rando
Marion Stillson
Rob Whitfield
Brief Overview of FCPS Schools in Reston

Current Conditions

Per the planning office of FCPS, by the 2015-16 school year, about one half of the
current elementary schools in the Reston area, Herndon and Hughes middle schools
and Herndon and South Lakes high schools will all be over capacity. That is the
estimate EXCLUSIVE of any approved new development not yet built as of now (June,
’10) as well as all of the development this task force is studying.

The current demographics of the area are changing as existing neighborhoods
throughout Reston are welcoming younger families as previous occupants, mostly older
residents, die or move. Other factors spiking enrollments above those projected in the
last 3 years include the down economic cycle, social changes in ethnic and family
structure, as well as enrollment in public school of students who may have previously
attended private schools. Also, generally schools with all day kindergartens experience
larger enrollments which include 7 of the 10 elementary schools serving Reston
children.

FCPS also discussed a tendency of the county to approve additional development
without first considering the impact on public facilities. To counter this frustrating
pattern, they are proposing a school faculty advisory body to channel citizen input. This
would seem especially appropriate in Reston where the pre-existence of good schools
and other public facilities is a basic tenant of our planning principles and an expectation
of our existing population.

According to FCPS, planning for additional and non-traditional schools is paramount to
a successful Revised Reston Master Plan as potential school sites for addressing the
projected student enrollment deficits are scarce given the lack of available, affordable,
buildable land in the Reston area for traditional school sites.

Urban Schools Serving Reston TOD Areas

To date, no firm information is available for projecting accurate enrollments in TOD
areas per se as they are a relatively new phenomenon. FCPS has studied TOD’s in
Atlanta, Pittsburg, San Francisco, Toronto and Arlington among others in an effort to get
statistics on this type of development but none are available. Arlington’s experience is
relatively new but so far additions to existing facilities has been sufficient to handle TOD
enrollment as most of Arlington’s population appears to be singles, young married and
older persons. But planners there admit that this could change as family patterns
change and existing communities evolve.

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One point emphasized by FCPS planners is that as neighborhoods age, more school
age children move in than were there when the area was new. They have seen this
pattern repeatedly.

Elementary Schools:

FCPS is willing to consider alternatives to the traditional elementary school sites in
newly urbanized neighborhoods provided that all safety, security and specific
requirements are met. With non-traditional school sites, the probability is that grades K
– 3 would be housed in one facility and grades 4 – 6 in another.

High Rise Building:
In the urban planning process, staff stated that locating a school on the first two floors of
a specifically pre-planned school-friendly high rise is much easier than trying to retro-fit
an existing structure. They suggested that co-locating a school in high-rise building
next to a park area for recreational and PE use was ideal but that providing a large
enough pre-planned outdoor area at street level would also work. Another possibility
suggested is using fenced roof-top outdoor areas for some outdoor additional activities
for elementary students.

Municipal Building:
Co-locating elementary schools in a larger municipal building that also houses social
services, a library and/or county offices is another possibility for a non-traditional site.

Recreational / Community Building:
A third suggestion from FCPS planning staff was for a more traditional school set-up to
share space with after-hours recreational and community use functions.

It would appear from the task force work done so far that one site for a new elementary
school could be the North Town Center area adjacent to any planned park. A school in
this location could be part of the library-civic center being discussed by the Town Center
sub-committee.

Secondary schools:

The planning staff emphasized that their requirements for junior and senior high schools
still require a campus setting due to all of the activities, sports, etc. attendant to older
age educational requirements in Fairfax County. Currently, the only available county
owned property suitable for an upper school campus located in Reston is the Baron
Cameron site which should be held open for this probability. In the meantime, it should
continue in its current use as playing fields and outdoor recreation capacities but not be
considered for a large indoor rec. facility until an alternative upper school campus is
identified and purchased.

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One interesting observation made by the planning staff re: high schools is that parents
who have enrolled their children in private schools for the elementary grades tend to re-
enroll in FCPS for high school. Since this tendency has occurred during good economic
times as well as bad, they attribute it to the excellent reputation of Fairfax schools.

Projecting the Future

Obviously this cannot be done until the TF establishes its recommendations to the
Planning Commission and BOS as to what specific densities and residential housing
styles are recommended. It is noteworthy that many developers seem to be thinking of
small high-rise apartment units mostly suitable for families without children. However,
this assumption goes in the face of the draft planning principle and Robert Simon’s
existing values of a diverse demographic community. The student mix will change to the
degree that town houses and low rise apartments are included in new residential
development.

Whatever the residential mix, at least some new schools will likely be necessary in
Reston on all levels. In view of the scarcity of potential school sites, planning for their
locations and features will be paramount as the TF considers what proffers to require of
participating developers.

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