Boundary realignment a big concern at forum

QUICKSBURG – Boundary realignment was a major concern among residents at a Shenandoah County School Board question and answer forum on Tuesday night in Quicksburg.

School Board members Richard Koontz and Karen Whetzel joined Superintendent Jeremy Raley at North Fork Middle School to answer questions posed by residents.

Raley told the public that the board is now faced with making a decision by Nov. 12 on how to solve school overcrowding in the short term.

“The key to all of this is timing,” he said. The recommendation must be implemented by next school year, keeping the board on a strict timetable.

Raley said that the current recommendation “reduces overcrowding in the elementary schools and provides equity in the southern campus.”

One member of the audience asked if this is a feasible option.

Raley said, “It can happen.”

When asked how the board felt about the recommendation provided by the consultants, Koontz said, “I’m personally going to follow the recommendation.”

Whetzel agreed and said, “I’m going to support the recommendation.”

Brooke Whetzel, of Edinburg, asked, “Is there any leniency with grandfathering?” Her question referenced students who follow their parents who teach on another campus.

Raley replied that important parameters will have to be set.

Koontz added, “We have a lot to learn too.”

Heather Diehl, of Mount Jackson, brought up the problem of possibly not receiving needed funding from the Board of Supervisors. She said that Raley has already “met outstanding resistance” with current funding needs.

Koontz replied that the board is currently sharing information with the supervisors in hopes that they understand the needs of the schools.

Boundary changes will be tough for the community, Raley said.

“We have to be adaptable and flexible,” he said.

If the board chooses to accept the recommendation, Raley said, a consultant will be hired to help draw the lines.

“We will have an expert walk us through the process,” he said.

The boundary realignment and the modular units are part of the short-term solution, but a possible option for a long-term solution is year-round schooling.

Raley said “year-round schooling has a pretty nice instructional benefit,” as students aren’t away from the classroom for long periods of time, so more information is retained.

He added that the community will have to think differently as a community to make this option work.

“As staff we have to do a lot of research to see how we can make it work for our school division,” Raley said.

Charles Streett, of Quicksburg, asked about possible problems with this option, such as providing year-round teachers and staff and carrying out maintenance within the schools that is normally done during the long student breaks from school.

Raley said the board would look at how other school divisions make year-round schooling possible and learn from them.

“We will really have to change our approach to things,” he said.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or