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Redistricting plan passed in Jefferson county

April 02, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A school redistricting plan designed to more evenly distribute Jefferson County's student population among schools and relieve overcrowding in classrooms was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education Tuesday night.

Board members unanimously passed the proposal, which will go into effect at the beginning of the next school year, school officials said.

School officials have said overcrowding exists in many schools in the county and they wanted to change the attendance zones for Page Jackson, T.A. Lowery, C.W. Shipley and Wright Denny elementary schools.

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Under the proposal presented to county residents, students would not be taken out of Shepherdstown, South Jefferson, Blue Ridge and Ranson elementary schools, but students would be added to those schools.

Jefferson High School, the 9th Grade Complex, Charles Town Middle School, Harpers Ferry Middle School, Shepherdstown Middle School and North Jefferson Elementary are not part of the plan.

The plan stayed intact except for some changes that were recommended by Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols Tuesday night.

Under one change, students living on Bakerton Road and on Carter Avenue to Duncan Road would remain at C.W. Shipley School instead of being transferred to Shepherdstown Elementary.

That change brought a round of applause from some parents.

At one of two public meetings held last month on the redistricting plan, many Bakerton-area parents said they were upset about having their children moved to Shepherdstown Elementary.

One parent cried at the podium during a meeting at Blue Ridge Elementary School because she was worried her daughter - who suffers from dyslexia - would not be able to cope at Shepherdstown Elementary.

Other changes approved by the board included:

  • Students on Kidwiler Road at W.Va. 230 to the "Y" at Engle Moler Road will remain at T.A. Lowery Elementary School.

  • Students on W.Va. 230 from Uvilla Road to Kidwiler Road will remain at T.A. Lowery.

  • Students on Melvin Road from W.Va. 230 to Flowing Springs Road will remain at T.A. Lowery.

  • Students on Flowing Springs Road at Melvin Road to Whitmer Road will remain at T.A. Lowery.



During the public hearing at Blue Ridge Elementary, school officials said they were sympathetic to the concerns raised by parents about the redistricting plan.

But they said they were in a difficult situation trying to provide school space for students in the county.

Nichols said the state of West Virginia has been "very difficult" to work with in getting more money for school construction and estimated Jefferson County is about 10 years behind in building the schools it needs.

Many parents criticized the plan, saying it would disrupt families and children's education. Some parents said they wanted to know how to appear before the Jefferson County Commission and the Jefferson County Planning Commission to demand explanations about the growth that was forcing the changes.

Nichols thanked county residents for their input Tuesday night. He said the changes resulted in the school system not having to create two positions, which had been expected under the plan.

"We know it's not perfect, but we're trying to balance it the best we can," Nichols said.

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