Committee forms options for boundaries

WOODSTOCK – A steering committee has come up with several options for new school attendance boundaries for the county’s public schools.

The 24-member panel, which met Monday evening, was broken up into four separate groups and each group created at least one option to present at a community dialogue meeting to be held Feb. 10.

Superintendent of Shenandoah County Public Schools Jeremy Raley noted, “We are on a very tight timeline and March 10 will be here before you know it.”

The School Board will vote on an option in March.

At Monday’s meeting, Matt Sachs, a GIS analyst with DeJong-Richter, informed the committee members about current enrollment data, which included historical enrollment and birth data for the county, that will aid them in their task.

Transportation costs, accessibility and times were major deciding factors for the committee while creating the new boundaries.

One group suggested moving Fort Valley students to the central campus and moving Zepp students to the northern campus.

Another group took areas around main roads, such as U.S. 11, that allow the buses to head either north or south more easily, without having to spend more time on side streets.

This group also took part of Fort Valley and moved it to the central campus.

The next group moved half of Fort Valley and the town of Edinburg to the southern campus. They also looked at main roads and decided that areas surrounding U.S. 11 would feed the southern campus and Va. 42 would feed the central campus.

The last group kept the town of Edinburg in the central campus, but areas surrounding the town were moved to the southern campus. Further north, Toms Brook was kept in the northern campus.

Sachs said he and CEO of DeJong-Richter, Tracy Richter, will look at the options and create maps along with a table of the data to bring to the community dialogue meeting. They will also include pros and cons of each option for discussion at the meeting.

In addition to the new boundariers, Raley told the group that the School Board will need to decide on new policies in regards to which exemptions will be allowed as to where students attend schools, such as the current 16 students with disabilities who need to attend a specific school for a special education program, and students with parents who are teachers and are currently allowed to take their child to school with them.

“That policy adopted by the board is going to be critical,” he said.

Since the new boundaries are dependent on where students are living, a concern was raised by the committee and the School Board about the accuracy of current addresses on file.

“We are over 90 percent confident that we have accurate information coming from the school,” Raley said.

As of now, he added, “We are going to request that you have two legitimate proofs of residence. That’s something that we are going to require and we are going to continue to require for new enrollees, transfers throughout this entire process.”

The community dialogue will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Central High School cafeteria.

Each committee member will lead a small group of community members and discuss what the options are and why those options are being considered over other possibilities.

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