Board OKs boundary changes

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County School Board members have decided to move forward with boundary realignment and a long-term study to alleviate overcrowding concerns in county schools.

The School Board is on “a very aggressive time frame” to complete the boundary realignment by the start of the next school year, Superintendent Jeremy Raley said at a Thursday night meeting.

Only partially approving the recommendation of a recent facility evaluation, the board chose to deny the purchase of the six modular classrooms for each county elementary school.

Board member Katheryn Freakley motioned to move forward with the recommendation of a $35,000 boundary estimate and the $100,000 long-term study estimate.

The motion was seconded and carried.

The original recommendation for the boundary realignment, modular classrooms and the long-term study would have cost the county $460,000 in the first year. The approved decision by the board brought the cost down to $135,000 with the elimination of the modular classrooms.

Freakley expressed concerns about the modular units remaining a temporary fix, saying, “I don’t think they’ll go away.”

Chairman Richard Koontz Jr. also mentioned possible safety concerns with the portable units as well as the high cost of renting the units year after year.

Also discussed was Raley’s proposal for a new instructional calendar beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

The new school calendar would provide periodic breaks for students and staff, finish the first semester before winter break, and move the start of the school year to August in order to provide more learning time before students’ fall and spring assessments.

The new calendar “needs to be able to support the instructional agenda,” Raley said.

The new schedule would end school before Memorial Day and also give students a week off for spring break and for the Shenandoah County Fair.

“It gives us a little more flexibility than we currently have,” Raley said.

Koontz said, “It seems like there’s a lot of good points here.”

Raley said the 2016-2017 calendar would remain similar to this year’s academic calendar to give the community time to prepare for a shorter summer in 2017. That year, school would begin on Aug. 7, and students would then have the week of the county fair off later that month.

The proposed calendar will be a discussion item at December’s board meeting, at 7 p.m. Dec. 10.

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