School Board OKs new boundary lines

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — Despite protests from some parents, the Shenandoah County School Board voted 5-1 to finalize redistricting as a temporary solution to school overcrowding on March 10.

Board member Irving Getz opposed the action, which will shift 395 of the county’s 6,000 public school students to different schools.

The purpose is to reduce overcrowding at W.W. Robinson and Sandy Hook elementary schools.

About 75 parents, students and staff members attended the meeting. Some parents asked the board to wait to implement the measure until the county approves the fiscal 2017 budget in April.

“If the Board of Supervisors doesn’t fund the boundary adjustment, what are you going to cut?” Ann Shirkey of Edinburg asked.

In December, supervisors allocated $135,000 from the general fund to pay for boundary changes and a long-term study of school facilities.

The division also included a $392,000 request in its budget, which the School Board also approved on March 10, for more faculty at the northern and southern campuses to accommodate more students.

Board member Sonya Williams-Giersch sympathized with families who will start over at new schools next year.

“It’s been a very tough decision for me,” she said. “I was a sensitive child who would have suffered from changes like this. I do hurt for those children and their families.”

The board also approved a change in the division’s attendance policy during the meeting.

The new policy says students who attend preschool through ninth grade next school year must attend their assigned campuses unless their parent works at a different campus or they are disabled and must travel to meet their Individualized Education Plans.

Rising 10th, 11th and 12th grade students can remain at their high schools under the new policy.

After the meeting, parents discussed what the upcoming changes will mean for them.

Stephanie Pence, a mother of two from Edinburg, said her children will be moved from the central campus four miles from home to the southern campus 12 miles away.

She said changing schools will harm her son, who has improved in coping with separation anxiety in the last few years.

“He has blossomed with As and Bs,” she said. “Why would I be willing to sacrifice his progress in his education for another child’s education?”

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