Public to hear long-term school options Wednesday

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — Shenandoah County residents will soon hear the results of deliberations from a panel charged with determining the school division’s long-term future.

The 25-member steering committee discussed options for dealing with aging and overcrowded school buildings during its second meeting on Monday. The group held its first meeting March 30.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley said the committee reviewed “a variety of scenarios,” the details of which have not been made public.

“They’re looking at the number of elementary and middle schools there are in the future and the feeder patterns we may have,” he said.

Raley said Tuesday that the committee will share four possible plans during a community dialogue at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Central High School.

The division is working with HBA Architecture and Interior Design from Virginia Beach, as well as Ohio-based educational consultants DeJong-Richter, to study the condition of the county’s 10 school buildings and 20-year projections of student demographic trends.

The firms found that the county’s middle and high schools ranked “fair” in an assessment of their structural integrity and educational adequacy. Scores between 0.4 and 0.75 qualify as “fair.”

All three elementary schools and Triplett Tech ranked “poor,” with scores higher than 0.75. Triplett Tech had a Total Condition Index of 0.9, the highest in the county.

No school claimed the highest ranking of “good,” attained with a score lower than 0.4.

The study awarded the rankings based on the condition of buildings’ roofs, pipes, electrical systems and other aspects.

The study also projected next year’s enrollment and building capacity.

The number of students is projected to drop by 50, from 6,072 this school year to 6,022 in 2016-17.

Even so, the study says, all three elementary schools are expected to operate at 94 percent to 98 percent capacity next school year.

The remaining schools are projected to top out at between 71 percent and 90 percent capacity.

HBA and DeJong-Richter helped the division form new attendance boundary lines this year as a temporary solution to overcrowding at W.W. Robinson and Sandy Hook elementary schools.

The new boundaries take effect in September for the 2016-17 school year.

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