City Schools OK Redistricting Plan
About 60 Students Redirected To Skyline Middle School Next Year
Posted: January 19, 2013
Students head for buses at Thomas Harrison Middle School at the close of school Tuesday afternoon. This week, the Harrisonburg City School Board approved a plan to redistrict the division’s middle school boundaries in an effort to help ease overcrowding at THMS. (Photo by Michael Reilly)
A unanimous vote this week by the Harrisonburg City School Board officially changed the division’s middle school boundary, redistricting a chunk of streets, mainly off East Washington Street in the city’s Northeast Neighborhood, to attend Skyline Middle School.
Rising fifth-grade students in the area — who attend Waterman or Spotswood Elementary schools — will be directed to the middle school closer to their home, rather than traveling to Thomas Harrison Middle School.
The reorganization will cure some crowding at THMS, which was 11 students under its 890-student capacity as of Dec. 21, according to enrollment summaries on the division’s website.
According to Superintendent Scott Kizner, families were informed through letters about the possible boundary change and an open house was held Jan. 9 at Skyline Middle School for those who would be affected. Responses from the five families who attended were “very favorable,” Kizner said.
Only one person, Virginia Healy, a parent and teacher at THMS, spoke during the public input section of Tuesday’s board meeting.
“I’m thankful that you are making a move and that this will definitely happen in the fall,” said Healy, who said the relief would spread slowly into the higher grades. “That’s a lot of kids in the hallway still.”
Over the next four years, the boundary change would affect an average of 59 students each year.
While the redirection will address crowding for “at least the next few years,” said Kizner, longer-term solutions to the division’s enrollment growth are forthcoming.
Between December 2011 and December 2012, enrollment for the entire division has grown by 161 students to 4,889. That’s up from 4,349 students in December 2009.
Accelerated growth within the division has caused several schools to almost hit or exceed capacity, launching a detailed conversation by the board about how to manage enrollment.
The board has examined several possible solutions and voted in November to reclaim the city-owned Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center to house prekindergarten programs.
Kizner said he didn’t take the lack of speakers on the boundary change this week as a bad sign. Principals reported that they weren’t hearing any concerns, he said, and that the switch is likely good news for students who will attend the middle school closest to home.
All streets that would be affected by the proposed boundary move are available in a document at http://boarddocs.com/vsba/hcsva/Board.nsf/Public, under the Jan. 15 meeting.
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org