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Posted November 1, 2012 | comments 5 Comments

Shenandoah County: School lines could change

Board discusses boundaries and two buildings' pupil capacity

By Kim Walter

During the 2012-13 school year, two Shenandoah County elementary schools will be operating over capacity unless the school board makes changes to attendance boundaries.

School board members were presented with several scenarios of attendance boundary changes during a meeting on Thursday evening. Members were told that if no boundary changes were made among the northern, central and southern campuses, W.W. Robinson Elementary School would be operating at 103 percent capacity, and Sandy Hook Elementary School would be at 106 percent operating capacity.

Ashby Lee Elementary School, in the southern campus, would operate at 83 percent capacity. The next highest capacity rate would be at Strasburg High School, at 85 percent.

Superintendent B. Keith Rowland showed the board how student enrollment would change if students went to a school based on voting districts. In this scenario, the central campus schools would operate below 85 percent capacity, but elementary schools in the other two campuses would be operating at 101 percent and 110 percent.

"In this scenario, Ashby Lee and Sandy Hook would lose," Rowland said. "All increases of student enrollment, especially in the northern campus, would consequently create problems."

In a final scenario, Rowland presented the result of a equalization study done by Virginia Commonwealth University eight years ago. The study proposed changing boundaries to make attendance as equal as possible in all three campuses.

The students most affected by the study, if the proposal is put into action, would be those in the central campus, as the northern campus would leak into it, and part of it would be lost to the southern campus. Previously, students close to boundary lines were given a choice as to where they would attend. Rowland said that the proposal probably wouldn't work as well if students and their parents still had a choice.

"When you make exceptions, it starts to impact the capacity numbers," he said.

The study proposes changes that would bring the operating capacity at all three elementary schools to 96 percent or 98 percent.

"So you have to ask yourself, are these numbers better than having two schools over 100 percent capacity," he told the board.

Rowland said that if any changes were to be made, the board would need to decide no later than January to give parents and students time to process the change and voice their concerns. A public hearing would have to take place if boundaries were redrawn.

Board members agreed that time was needed to process the information, and an information item will be added to the board's agenda for next week's meeting. From there, board members can discuss their opinions and decide if any action will be taken.

"You need to figure out if this will make a long term or short term difference," Rowland said. "You don't want to be back at this table in two years having the same discussion."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com

5 Comments |

    This is laughable. There used to be 25-30 kids in a class and now it's half that and all of a sudden the schools are over capacity. People want to blame the Board of Supervisors for everything, maybe they should start looking at the decisions and leadership of the School Board.

      not sure about those numbers. The two campuses I sub at have 25 + in the classes. I think the lines definitely need to be changed to prevent the need of more school additions. Seems like an easy and reasonable fix.

      Thankfully, RealityCheck is not a decision maker, as they seem to think having an elementary school at 103 or 106% of capacity is ok. WW and Sandy Hook rank near the top in terms of elementary school size in the entire state of Virginia! While most elementary schools enjoy safer and more manageable populations near 600 or 700 hundred we in Shenandoah County have two schools with well over 1000 students in each. I suggest you go visit those two schools and you'll see they are way overcrowded. Something needs to be done...and has needed to be done for several years. If we're going to build all of our county schools to similar specifications...shouldn't they have similar populations?

    If you implement new boundaries, you will still be back at the table in two years. Operating at 96-98 percent capacity leaves no room for growth. If the southern campus is at 83 percent now, going to 96 doesn't help in the long term, while staying at over 100 percent at the other schools is not conducive to a decent learning environment. I remember a lot of discussion about building a 4th elementary school in the Maurertown/Toms Brook area. Sounds like this discussion is about to take the stage again.

    Agree - A school in Toms Brook/Maurertown is needed. Growth in the area, but torn between Woodstock and Strasburg, leaves no community enviroment for our children. Neighbors are torn between two differant schools!
    My guess is District 5 - Dennis Morris would boo that idea in his only concern seems to be his farm and not the community.


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