The nonprofit Al Fatih Academy has outgrown its home and is searching for a new one that will be able to accommodate the growing enrollment. In the meantime, the academy has won the approval of the Herndon Planning Commission Monday night to install a temporary trailer on the property to serve as classroom space for an additional 10 students.
"What we're asking for is a buffer zone for us. We just need a little more time before we can jump into a permanent site," said Afeefa Sayeed, the academy's co-director.
THE ACADEMY was created in 1999 for the sole purpose of functioning as a school for the Muslim community. Currently the school is licensed to serve children ages 3 to grade four.
"Our plan is to add a grade each year," Sayeed said. "When we say grade, we're not talking about a class of about 30 children. We have about five kids per grade."
The current conditional-use permit allows the school to have an enrollment of 40 students, along with the temporary trailer, the school is being permitted to increase enrollment to 50 students. Academy officials are looking for a larger, permanent facility to accommodate the growing enrollment.
The trailer, similar to the ones used by local school systems, will be situated in the back corner of the property so as not to be an eyesore, Sayeed said. She further said the trailer would be on the property no longer than two years.
Town staff had also suggested that wooden slats be inserted into the existing chain-link fence because of a noise complaint, but the commissioners felt the request was not warranted.
"I appreciate not everyone likes noises around their houses … but I can't imagine kids' laughing as being a bad thing," said Commissioner William Tirrell.
THE PROPOSAL drew no opposition at the public hearing, but instead had the support of the property owner, Barbara Harding.
"It is so great to know the kids are going to have a chance to learn," Harding said. " … I'm glad the kids are there."
"… They need to expand. They are not being totally unreasonable here. … This is a temporary way [to address their need to expand] while continuing to teach the children," said Todd Harding, a one-time Herndon resident now living in Reston.
Under the terms of the conditional-use permit, the school will also have to construct a temporary gravel turn-around area so children can be safely dropped off and picked up without disrupting traffic.