Board Discusses Counseling Week, New Schools, Sexual Assault Case, New Push for Collective Bargaining

On Feb. 24, the School Board discussed the previous sexual assault cases, proclaimed that the week of Feb. 6 to 10 would be National School Counseling Week, and addressed updates to new schools being built in Loudoun County.


Amelia Chen

To counter the influx of new middle and high school students in the Independence High School zone, a new middle school called MS-14 will be built to house students in sixth and seventh grade, while the already existing Brambleton Middle School will hold students in eighth grade and Independence freshmen. Independence High School will only hold sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

On Jan. 24, the Loudoun County School Board held its second weekly Tuesday meeting. The board discussed National School Counseling Week, readdressing the opening of a new middle school, and the issue of releasing the LCPS sexual assault investigation. In addition to the information discussed by the board, the public comments followed a common theme for the push of collective bargaining, and senior Srikar Bangaru represented Rock Ridge as one of the two Student School Board Representatives during this meeting. 

Bangaru mentioned how Rock Ridge excelled in education and won the Cognia award. Rock Ridge was the only school in Virginia to receive this award. Bangaru also congratulated and recognized the achievements of Rock Ridge’s performing arts, choir, and debate team. 

Parents are still pushing toward the release of the documents involved with the sexual assault case. The Board finally acknowledged these requests and discussed them openly during this meeting. The Board did not provide an exact date about when they would motion a vote to make the documents public, but they did say that it would be discussed within one of the upcoming February meetings. 

During the public comments, the public frequently brought up a process called collective bargaining and why it should be used in LCPS. Collective bargaining is when an employer and employees in the same career field determine a reasonable salary together. Proponents argue that this is an effective way for employees to communicate the complications that occur in their field of work to create a salary equal to their labor. Public commenters argued that other states and Richmond City have implemented it well, and commenters mentioned that the unlivable salary causes teachers to work multiple jobs and that the mental health of teachers should also be prioritized.

Some Rock Ridge teachers like chemistry teacher Mithra Marcus support the voices of the collective bargainers. “There needs to be a balance between available funds, and the voices of employees and the voices of the employers to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement,” Marcus said. “[The salary] is how I provide for my family, it’s how I drive to school every day, so knowing that I have a stable income is very important to my well-being.” 

The School Board unanimously motioned the week of Feb. 6 to 10 to be National School Counseling Week. Brenda Sheridan, chair of the Equity Committee and Specialized Programs & Centers Committee, finds the week extremely important. “School counselors are employed in schools to help students reach their full potential,” Sheridan said to the board. “[They] are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development.”

A new middle school is being built to combat the overflow of students within LCPS. The middle school currently does not have a name. The school is expected to be a temporary fix for overcrowding issues at Independence High School, and to give time for a new high school to be constructed and opened later. This new high school, HS-14 will open in 2028 To combat overcrowding in the Independence High School cluster, MS-14 will hold sixth and seventh grade students, contrary to the typical sixth, seventh, and eighth grade arrangement for middle school. From there, students will go to Brambleton Middle School for eighth and ninth grade. Finally, they go to Independence High School to finish the rest of their high school years.

The next School Board meeting will be held on Feb. 14.