Boundary options for public comment

The community will have the opportunity to discuss three Shenandoah County school boundary options at a meeting this Wednesday.

A steering committee made up of teachers, parents and staff from each campus came up with five preliminary options that were reviewed by school staff and the consultant firm, DeJong-Richter, but according to a letter sent out to parents last week, it was determined that two of the options created transportation concerns with bus rides exceeding two hours.

Those two options were thrown out, leaving three options for the community to review at the Community Dialogue meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Central High School cafeteria.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley said that during the meeting community members will be split up as they enter the cafeteria.

“They will be placed at any one of 24 tables. Each table will have a member of the steering committee to facilitate the process of getting feedback from the committee regarding the proposed options,” Raley said.

At the meeting, a presentation will be made by DeJong-Richter on the process of creating the boundaries, followed by an individual questionnaire to compare the three options and provide comments.

While transportation was a major concern for the steering committee in creating new boundaries, utilization rates were also a deciding factor in how boundaries were created.

The current utilization rates at the elementary level are: 102.4 percent at Sandy Hook, 100.5 percent at W.W. Robinson, and 81.56 percent at Ashby Lee.

Option A brings Sandy Hook down to 97.5 percent, W.W Robinson down to 95.3 percent and Ashby Lee up to 96.1 percent.

Option B brings Sandy Hook down to 96.9 percent, W.W Robinson down to 94.7 percent, and Ashby Lee up to 97.7 percent.

Option C brings Sandy Hook down to 97.5 percent, W.W. Robinson down to 94.2 percent and Ashby Lee up to 97.9 percent.

With each option, there are strengths and weaknesses.

All three options bring schools under 100 percent live-in utilization and allow for equal program offerings across the division.

Option A affects the fewest number of students, while Option C moves the greatest number of students to the southern campus, best balancing utilization at the middle and high school levels.

However, the core spaces at W.W. Robinson and Sandy Hook elementary schools will still be stressed under any option, and Stonewall Jackson High School – currently at 57.8 percent utilization – will only rise to about 70 percent utilization under any of the three options.

Options B and C are tied at affecting the greatest number of students.

Additional option details can be found online on the school division’s website, http://shenandoah.k12.va.us, as well as on DeJong-Richter’s project website, http://tinyurl.com/jxll7c5.

Large, detailed maps of the three proposed boundary adjustment options can also be viewed at the School Board Office, which is on the second floor of the County Government Center in Woodstock.

The School Board will hear the three options at its Feb. 25 meeting, followed by another public hearing on recommendations on March 2. The School Board will vote on an option at its March 10 meeting.

Raley said the board will also vote on any policy changes it decides to make regarding what exceptions will be made regarding where students attend school. Currently teachers are allowed to take their children to the campus where they work.

The boundary adjustment will take effect at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

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