School Board, Supervisors Talk Metro Planning, School Capacity

Loudoun County supervisors and School Board members are looking ahead to an urban style of development that is still new to Loudoun, and how to educate the students in those areas.

Members of the Joint Board of Supervisors and School Board Committee on Monday got an update on the county’s plans for urban development areas, particularly around future Metrorail access. Unlike other development, zoning there will require minimum floor area ratios, the ratio of floor space to parcel size. In other planning areas, that number is a cap rather than a minimum.

But in the new Urban Transit Center place type created in the county’s 2019 comprehensive plan, developments are hoped to have minimum floor area ratios of 1.4 to 2—in other words, up to twice as much floor space square footage as there is property, something achievable only with multi-story buildings. That also brings with it densely populated, multi-family residential development such as apartments.

And that means the county government will have to find the funding to educate them.

A depiction of the Urban Transit Center place type at a 2.0 floor area ratio, permitted within a quarter mile of Metro stations.

The school system has also worked to develop new metrics to determine how many schools will be required based on how many families in those areas are likely to have school-aged children, and how to design those schools in the new, vertical environment. Each year the school system looks at how many students they have and from where, helping them calibrate how many students each type of housing may bring into the system. That can have multiple factors, said Director of Planning Services Beverly Tate.

“A lot of our newer townhomes are comparable in size to some of our older single-families, particularly in eastern Loudoun,” she said.

Already some sites in the future urban area have been picked out—the county has obtained two elementary school sites in the urban policy area around the Ashburn and Loudoun Gateway Metro stations through developer proffer agreements, and another near the Innovation Station Metro stop. That stop is just across the county line in Fairfax, but the urban development around it is expected to extend into Loudoun.

County staff members reported that already near the Loudoun metro stops, there are 13,743 residential units approved, with 9,578 of those still to be built.

As those applications come in, they are referred to county agencies including the school system. In general, they reported, an elementary school classroom can accommodate 23 students, a middle school classroom accounts for 19 students and a high school classroom has a capacity of 21 students. Special education classrooms are much more resource intensive, able to take on 9 or ten students each.

And from residential units that have already been approved but are still be constructed, across Loudoun, the school system estimates another 4,330 elementary, 2,416 middle school and 3,320 high school students. That equates to 4.5 elementary schools, 1.7 middle schools and 1.6 high schools. More than half of that is in the school system’s Dulles North and Dulles South planning districts, encompassing eastern Loudoun south of the Dulles Greenway, through which median the Metro tracks run.

3 thoughts on “School Board, Supervisors Talk Metro Planning, School Capacity

  • 2022-04-07 at 11:59 am

    Across this nation, (D)-controlled “urban” areas are a total disaster: Failing schools. Normalization of crime. Small businesses disappearing. Unsustainable taxation.

    And now the BoS wants to bring that very same thing here to Loudoun. Oh, wait, it’s already in process. We see it on a daily basis. These new plans are simply an expansion of this poor governance.

    • 2022-04-07 at 5:05 pm

      The even bigger problem is people who move from areas like New York, New Jersey, California, and other states where the worst dictators in history could run as a Democrat and win. Why did they leave those areas? Mostly because cost of living is ridiculously high and living conditions are generally poor for what they’re paying in taxes. What do they do? Move to Virginia and other states where the tax burden is lower, cost of living is equivalent or lower, and general living conditions are better… yet they continue to vote for the same party that ruined the place they left in the first place… the Democratic Party.

      The Democratic Party behaves like a virus… making everyone miserable wherever and whenever they take over.

      And before the leftist lovers start flapping their yaps, the Republican Party is only marginally better… especially when they get too complacent. Our biggest problem is spending, not revenue. We get plenty of tax money in… the problem is that both parties want to spend too much. As the saying goes, “The party that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.”

  • 2022-04-07 at 4:16 pm

    So let’s take the worst part of Arlington/Fairfax and build it in Loudoun.

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