Albemarle County Schools Discuss Options for Overcrowding Issue

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Classroom overcrowding is forcing Albemarle County schools to rethink the future of high school education.

The school board got its first look at three concepts to create enough space for all the county's high school students.

Albemarle High School is already overcrowded by around 200 students.

Western Albemarle is seeing the fastest growth and is projected to add nearly 300 students by 2024.

The school system started this facilities study in February to find space for all those students.

Consultants hired by the school system presented their early recommendations to the school board on October 10. 

The county could modernize its current high schools and build a new one, either in the Ivy area or in northern Albemarle County.

According to plans, a new school in the north would replace Albemarle High School.

A "village-based" option would create large hubs where students from all the high schools could go for specialized learning.

The third "network-based" option opens smaller, storefront-size hubs for students to take different courses. 

“We're going to be expecting our juniors and seniors to spend some time out of the building doing community based projects, to do work studies, to do job shadowing or internships … So, that will have an impact on how much space we need,” said Kate Acuff, Albemarle County School Board chair. 

Any option will be built around the county's High School 2022 initiative, which expects students to spend less time in an actual school building. 

"We're just changing the emphasis for our high school students in terms of balancing academic content with workplace skills, career development, and community engagement," said Matt Haas, Albemarle County Public School deputy superintendent. 

The consultants are still working on how much all of these options would cost.

Building a new high school is the most expensive option. It would cost $130-140 million.

The school board will review final recommendations from this facilities study at its meeting October 26.

A community meeting is planned for some time in November.