One Street, Two Counties Means Choices for Students


(Wednesday, July 25, 2007 9:10 AM EDT)

South Greenbrier Street, just north of King Street (Route 7), doesn't look very different from the streets around it, but it is unique in one way: Part is in Arlington County and part is in Fairfax.

The result: Some high school students who live on South Greenbrier attend Arlington's Wakefield High School, which is only a couple of blocks away, while others, who live just across the street, have to commute farther to a high school in Fairfax County.

“Obviously, for someone who has to travel more, [these circumstances] aren't good,” said Diego Salthes, who lives on the Arlington side of the street. “But maybe the schools are better. Maybe it's worth the trip.”

A number of the homes on the street are cut in half by the county line, and homeowners pay taxes to both jurisdictions. In these cases, students can choose which county's school system they want to attend.

“According to state code, if the house is split, then the student can go to school in either district,” said Arlington's assistant superintendent of student services Alvin Crawley. “There are a couple of funny properties that are somehow on the line, but it's not very common.”

If the county line falls on a person's land, the state code does not apply. It only applies when the line splits a person's home, Crawley said.

“I chose Wakefield because I used to go to there when I lived in another house in South Arlington,” said Jamal Jones, a recent Wakefield graduate, who lives in a house split by the county line. “I didn't want to go to another school.”

Some people who live by the county line said they wouldn't want their children to travel to a Fairfax school.

“We enjoyed being able to send our children to Arlington schools,” said Alan Forssell, a 51-year Arlington resident, who lives on South Greenbrier Street.

Justin Thomas, who lives on the Fairfax side of South 14th Street (called 14th Street South on the Arlington side), is headed to Fairfax's J.E.B. Stuart High School as a freshman in the fall.

Thomas said that attending a high school farther away doesn't bother them.

“I don't mind,” Thomas said. “Stuart is better, anyway.”

And what if a student just outside Arlington wants to go to Arlington schools, to cut down on the commute? Sorry, no can do.

“It would not be fair to [Arlington] taxpayers to have students for whom we are not getting any reimbursement in Arlington schools,” Crawley said. “The idea is to implement a policy in a consistent manner.”

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