School Board hears redistricting recommendation

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — On Feb. 25, the Shenandoah County School Board justified the necessity of changing boundary lines to relieve school overcrowding, despite complaints from some parents.

Terry Richter and Matt Sachs of Ohio-based education consultant DeJong-Richter presented the recommendation, which was one of three options for new boundaries presented to the public during a Feb. 10 meeting.

The scenario, labeled “Option C,” requires students who live from Ridge Hollow Road west of Edinburg to Forest Road 374 east of the town to move from central campus schools to the southern campus.

As an adjustment to a previous version of Option C, Sachs said, Edinburg-area students who live on Mash Lane, Tomahawk Lane and both sides of Edinburg Gap Road would stay at the central campus to avoid dividing the town between two campuses.

Additionally, students in the Maurertown and Toms Brook areas who live on Zion Church Road, Tea Berry Road, Park Lane, south of Fishers Road and southeast of Harrisville Road between Interstate 81 and U.S. 11 would move from the northern to the central campus.

The scenario would move 395 of the county’s 6,000 students to new districts. DeJong-Richter recommended boundary changes to combat overcrowding at W.W. Robinson and Sandy Hook elementary schools.

The board will vote on the scenario during its regular meeting on Thursday. The division hopes to have new boundaries in place for the 2016-17 school year.

Richter addressed some parents’ concerns that redistricting affects too few students by describing the amount of classroom space that would be freed at both overcrowded schools.

“Seventy, 75, 80 students make a huge difference,” he said.

Board member Katheryn Freakley blamed school conditions on a lack of funding from the Board of Supervisors.

“Had previous needs-based budgets been approved,” she said, “these disparities … would not be nearly as great.”

Freakley also acknowledged a petition county residents launched on last week calling for the county to wait on implementing boundary changes.

“I’m all for organizing and stand[ing] up for what you believe in,” Freakley said. “I certainly appreciate that.”

The petition, called “Option D = DEFER,” launched on Feb. 23. It received 100 signatures its first day and had 492 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

Board member Cyndy Walsh said she’s “angry” that the county has waited so long to address overcrowding, but that redistricting is the best option.

“This should have been done a long time ago, but it’s the necessary thing we’ve got to do,” she said. “It is what it is.”

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