The Rockingham County School Board took the first step in alleviating an overcrowding issue in one area of the county by hearing a recommendation to redistrict.
No decisions have been made at this time, division Superintendent Oskar Scheikl said. But the issue needs to be addressed now, so that schools have time to schedule the next school year before it’s upon them.
Due to population growth in the urban development area east of Harrisonburg, Montevideo Middle School is overcrowded and Spotswood High School is nearing capacity.
Currently, Montevideo is overcapacity by 28 students and Spotswood has room for another 33.
The first of five informational meetings was held Monday at the Elkton Area Community Center, with about 200 people in attendance. However, given the opportunity to address the board, no one in attendance brought up the proposed school boundary changes. The only comments Scheikl has heard at this point have been on social media.
“Parents don’t want their kids’ school to change,” Scheikl said.
However, when it comes to spending taxpayer money to expand a building or rerouting some students to less populated schools, the school division has to think about what makes sense financially, he said.
If approved, redistricting will be in two phases, one to occur over summer 2020 and one over summer 2021.
The recommendation is to move 158 students from Montevideo Middle School to Elkton Middle School and 207 Spotswood High School students to East Rockingham High School, beginning next year.
Rising seniors would be grandfathered in, letting them finish out their high school career where they started. Other grandfathering exceptions might be made as well, but those conversations have not happened yet, Scheikl said.
During summer 2021, the recommendation is to move 21 Plains Elementary School students and 15 John C. Myers Elementary School students to Fulks Run Elementary School, and 67 students from Mountain View Elementary School and 33 John Wayland Elementary School students to Ottobine Elementary School.
During summer 2021, it is also recommended that Linville-Edom Elementary School close. Scheikl said most of those students would go to Lacey Spring Elementary School.
Linville-Edom is in need of a renovation. When a school reaches that point, the discussion needs to be had whether millions should be sunk into renovation or if it makes more sense to close the school, Scheikl said.
A renovation of Linville-Edom would be particularly difficult because of the septic system and the land it’s on.
“It’s about doing more with less money or doing more with the same amount of money,” Scheikl said.