Superintendent: Boundary changes helped

Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Johnston is taking issue with a story that appeared in an area weekly newspaper.

The story titled “Boundary changes didn’t fix problems “ reported on school boundary issues and overcrowding problems in some of the schools. The story stated two more staff members would be added to Sandy Hook Elementary.

The problem is that it was not Sandy Hook where faculty was added to reduce increased enrollment, Johnston said. The two additional teachers were hired at Ashby Lee Elementary School.

The story also discussed Sandy Hook Elementary principal Steve Povlish reorganizing space to create additional classroom space. Povlish, however, is the principal at Ashby Lee.

“The data was attributed to the wrong school,” Johnston said “thereby setting up a false narrative that the boundary adjustments did not work and planted the seed that the decision makers at the time, the Board and Superintendent, were inept.”

The error should never have happened as the correct data has been shared publicly on at least three occasions, twice in August and again in October, Johnston said.

“That data shows that the boundary adjustments were effective in reducing the crowding at the most overcrowded schools and redistributing students to underutilized schools,” he said.

He cited Stonewall Jackson High School enrollment of 511 students, up by 56 students.

Ashby Lee Elementary School now has about 750 K-5 students, up from 610 students.

First day enrollment at Sandy Hook, Signal Knob, Strasburg High, Peter Muhlenberg and W.W. Robinson was lower than before the boundary change. After the boundary change, W.W. Robinson, the largest non-magnet K-5 public elementary school in Virginia, reduced its student population by 104 students, he said. There are now 1,151 students attending that school. Signal Knob Middle School reduced its numbers by 62 students and Peter Muhlenburg Middle School saw its student level fall by 29 students. Strasburg High School has seen its student population fall by 16 students.

 

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