As enrollment in Fairfax County Public Schools sees rapid growth — a trend expected to continue for at least the next five years — so do class sizes, a sensitive issue with parents and educators sometimes dealing with upwards of 30 children in a single classroom.
The issue is one Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34th) aims to address through a number of schools bills she's introducing this session, which she'll discuss with constituents at 9 a.m. Saturday in a town hall style meeting in McLean.
HB 1556 would change state code so class size would be calculated on a schoolwide — not divisionwide — basis.
The current law's maximum enrollment for classes with a single teacher to 24 students for kindergarten, 30 in grades 1 through 3, 35 in grades 4 through 6 and 24 in grade 6 through 12 English classes.
But it allows school systems to use the average of class sizes across its entire division, instead of at individual schools; at Wolftrap Elementary School in Vienna, parent Kim Farrell wrote in an email to Patch, some classes have 37 students in them.
Comstock's bill would change the language of the law from "divisionwide" to "schoolwide," which would force the system to maintain those class averages on a school-by-school basis.
Comstock will also discuss several other bills, including:
HB 1309: Makes local school boards responsible for setting the system's opening date and eliminating a state requirement that mandates school starts after Labor Day, known as the Kings Dominion law, unless they get a waiver from the Virginia Board of Education.
Several bills on this issue have been filed in the Virginia General Assembly in recent years, but all have failed, except for one signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2011 that exempted systems from the law only if a neighboring jurisdiction had received a waiver.
HB 1700: Would require that 75 percent of students admitted and enrolled at Virginia's public colleges and universities — except for the Virginia Military Institute, Norfolk State University and Virginia State University — are from Virginia.
Saturday's meeting with Barbara Comstock, who represents parts of McLean, Tysons and Vienna, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Drive, McLean.