Debate Heats Up Over Virginia School Site Decision

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February 25, 2024

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(STAFFORD, Va.) —Procedural missteps, miscommunication, and rumored racial bias overshadowed a Jan. 23  Stafford County School Board meeting.

The joint work meeting — intended to inform the school board and the Stafford County Board of Supervisors about the site and construction plans for elementary school 19— strayed considerably from its agenda.

As the discussion progressed, a disconnect was evident, and it seemed the entire room was frustrated.

Supervisor Chair Meg Bohmke criticized the school board for expanding Brooke Point Elementary without proper approval or public input, questioning the rush and lack of transparency in spending taxpayer money.

School Board member Elizabeth Warner defended the expedited approval of a much-needed school, prioritizing the 2026 opening to avoid losing crucial classroom space, “I don’t want to lose this school because I think the seats are more important.”

Concerns intensified after Pamela Yeung, one of the three Black members on the board of supervisors, pointed out problems at Drew Middle School, suggesting the neglect may be linked to racial bias. “Roaches are falling from the ceiling, and it seems no one cares about the students because they’re Black and Brown, or the teachers dealing with mold, roaches, and everything else,” Yeung said.

The question of where and how to spend school funds comes amid Stafford County’s rapid population growth, which has exacerbated existing challenges. The expected addition of 600 students by the 2024-25 school year will push six out of 17 elementary schools beyond 105% capacity, underscoring the need for constructing three new schools to prevent overcrowding.

The surge in students has meant big adjustments for teachers. A Stafford County high school biology teacher, who asked not to be named,  noted the challenge of providing personalized attention saying, “My students in larger classes are ‘packed in like sardines,’ stripping away the personal aspect of teaching.”

Amid heightened tensions, Stafford School Board Vice Chair Maya Guy called for maturity and swift action to meet construction deadlines, “We need to grow up and get these schools built in a timely fashion.”

The Board of Supervisors reached a contentious consensus by making no moves to reverse the school selection.

In the end, the necessity outweighed the unharmony as one educator told The Click, “I am not particularly opposed or in favor of the new location because, at this point, we just need to build more schools.”

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