Albemarle Schools Hold Public Hearings to Consider Redistricting
Monday Albemarle County Public Schools is hosting a meeting about redistricting. It will be a chance for parents to weigh in on what they want the schools to do about overcrowding.
Agnor-Hurt Elementary School is more than 100 students overcapacity. Administrators have come up with innovative ways to still keep class sizes down, but they're hoping Monday's meeting will be a step in the right direction towards coming up with a solution.
"We are sad to lose any child, we don't want to lose any child but the reality is we want every child to have optimal learning spaces," said Agnor-Hurt Principal Michele Castner.
Pearl Yu's children could be affected by the proposed redistricting in Albemarle County. She said she wasn't thrilled about the idea at first because her family has enjoyed their experience at Agnor-Hurt. "We've loved it here from day one," she said.
Administrators say the overcrowding is due to new development in the area, and more school-aged families moving in. Agnor-Hurt students are now forced to take classes in trailers, the gymnasium, hallways, and even a kitchen.
Although classrooms are moving to strange spaces, class sizes are have not been affected. The school is working to maintain class sizes of 20 to 25 students.
"This place may be overcapacity, but as a parent I could never tell," Yu said.
Castner agrees. "Instruction hasn't lacked in any way. I think children are unaware of the fact that we're overcrowded," she said.
Now parents will have a chance to weigh in on the matter. A redistricting committee is proposing three options for moving between 60 to 100 kids in the northern feeder pattern. That would transfer students to Broadus Wood, Woodbrook, or Greer elementaries.
"I would probably encourage any parent that's really upset about this to go to one of these redistricting meetings because if you go to one of the redistricting meetings and you look at all the factors they are considering, in terms of the kids and getting a better education, I don't think there's any way you can still be upset about this," Yu said.
Students will be staying put, though, until at least next year.
"I know that they're going to great places and they'll have more room and spacious learning spaces, so that part makes me happy," Castner said. "I think the reality is once the kids get there next year they'll be fine."
The meeting discussing changes to the northern feeder pattern will take place Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Agnor-Hurt Elementary. The redistricting meeting for the western feeder pattern will be Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Meriwether Lewis Elementary.
The redistricting committee will then give its final recommendation to Superintendent Pamela Moran. She will then give her recommendation to the school board.
Albemarle County Public Schools families will have the opportunity to review and comment upon options for the possible redistricting and reconfigurations of some elementary schools in the northern and western portions of the county at two public meetings next month. The meetings will be held on Monday, December 10, at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School and Tuesday, December 11, at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School. Both meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The division's redistricting advisory committee includes two subcommittees totaling 22 parents and community advisors. One subcommittee is considering changes to attendance zones in the northern feeder pattern, where Agnor-Hurt is more than 100 students overcapacity. Students may be relocated to Broadus Wood, Greer and/or Woodbrook elementary schools beginning next August. At the December 10 public meeting, school division staff and the subcommittee will present several options for how Agnor-Hurt's overcapacity should be resolved, and the subcommittee will receive public feedback.
At the December 11 public meeting, the western feeder pattern subcommittee will discuss short-term options for Meriwether Lewis, which include taking no action or recommending that a limited number of students be relocated to either Crozet or Murray elementary schools. The subcommittee also will present its analysis of planning options for the next several years to address projected enrollment growth among several elementary schools in the region. This will include the impact on feeder patterns for middle and high schools. The public will be able to review and comment on these options and on the longer-range planning analysis.
None of the schools in the western feeder pattern are at the overcapacity level that exists at Agnor-Hurt. Given the county's projected growth patterns in that area, however, the subcommittee's recommendations are an opportunity for the school division to anticipate and prepare for the impact of growth over the long term.
To ensure that all families who could be impacted by redistricting next year have the opportunity to review all options and offer comment, an online survey will be sent to them during the week of the public meetings.
Following the public meetings, the subcommittees will analyze, vote upon, and forward their recommendations to the Superintendent, who in turn will recommend solutions to the School Board in January. The Board will decide upon the proposals that will be presented at a public hearing later in the winter.
"The parents and community members of our two subcommittees are highly connected to the families at the schools they represent. They are making extraordinary contributions to the decision-making process," said Josh Davis, the division's Chief Operating Officer and the primary facilitator for the two subcommittees. "Members began with a clean sheet of paper, meaning all ideas and options were on the table. They continue to be exhaustive in their research and are asking insightful questions," he added.
"Subcommittee members are open-minded in their deliberations with their focus on solutions that serve the best interests of our students and families. That is first on the priority list for all of our volunteers," Davis said.
Concurrent with the December 10 and 11 public meetings and in addition to the surveys that will be sent to individual families, any member of the public will be able to review and comment on subcommittee recommendations. These will be posted on the school division's website beginning December 10. This survey and information about subcommittee members, meeting dates, and minutes can be accessed at www.k12albemarle.org/redistricting by clicking on the "Current Projects" link in the left-navigation of the page.
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