Boundary change, equity, athletics discussed at Q&A

WOODSTOCK – Boundary realignment was a major issue concerning residents at the Shenandoah County School Board question and answer forum on Tuesday night.

Among the few who came out for the first of three fall forums with School Board members Katie Freakley and Kathy Holsinger, was Becky Lambert, a retired teacher and Woodstock resident, who voiced concerns on boundary realignment.

Lambert asked how lines would be drawn and what the board would do about students who are already going to a school in a campus they shouldn’t be going to.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley said that there will be a lot of discussion with board members and the public about how lines would be drawn, and on “what’s going to be allowable and not allowable” in terms of students being schooled outside their boundary.

“We solve a lot of problems with boundary adjustment,” Raley said, but he added that many will be opposed to the new boundaries.

“We’re gonna have to weather the storm,” he said.

Raley said that the board will make a decision on Nov. 12.

In addition to boundary changes, Holsinger brought up equity among the campuses as a greater issue that must be addressed, as the county’s southern campus currently has fewer resources available to students and staff because of its smaller size. The boundary adjustment will need to address this issue, she said, adding that a long-term study is the best solution.

“We are not doing what is right for this community until we do a long-term study,” Holsinger said. “It is definitely needed.”

Another topic mentioned at the Q&A was the fairness of testing for home-schooled students. Zoe Baxter, of Edinburg, voiced concerns over the advantages home-schooled students are receiving from being allowed to retake tests online, when students in the classroom don’t have that opportunity.

The distances students at the southern campus have to travel for athletics was another issue brought up at the meeting.

Raley said, “Equalization would help them.” He added that the boundary changes would help solve this issue.

Raley added that nothing can happen without the county approving the budget. The county will need to approve the budget the School Board needs in order to start redrawing new boundary lines and putting up new modular units.

Most issues are budgetary issues, Freakley said, adding the need for a community climate that allows the educational needs of the community to come before money.

She said it would be great if “you can have these discussions and it doesn’t always come down to, well, only if we get the funding.”

Other Q&A sessions will be at Signal Knob Middle School in Strasburg at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and at North Fork Middle School in Quicksburg at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com