School board in Jefferson County debates taking in transfers

August 25, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Talk of adding even a small number of students to the crowded Jefferson County school system is enough to spark a debate.

Last Tuesday, schools Superintendent R. Steven Nichols presented the Jefferson County Board of Education with a proposal to allow 18 students from Berkeley County to attend school in Jefferson County.

Although Nichols said he was aware of the overcrowding facing all of the county's schools, he said he also believed it was important to provide continuity in students' education.


Most of the 18 students asking for permission to attend Jefferson County schools already were enrolled in the school system, school officials said.

Board of Education President Lori Stilley expressed concern about the request, especially since the school system had to purchase eight portable classrooms to make sure there is enough space for students this year.

"We don't want to keep putting in trailers and adding kids to trailers," Stilley said in a telephone interview the next day.

The transfer request was approved by a 3-2 vote. Board members Doris Cline, Paul Manzuk and Cheryl Huff voted for the transfers, and Stilley and Delores Milstead voted against it.

Manzuk said to keep in mind that the 18 students will be spread out in the school system. Cline said Berkeley County is crowded, too, but its schools teach some kids from Jefferson County.

Stilley said most people do not realize the extra amount of work that is placed on a teacher when one or two more students are added to a classroom.

Nichols said he realizes the students were being placed in a tight school system.

"When we do this, we're talking about sticking them in. This is forcing them in," said Nichols, adding that Jefferson County Schools could be getting about 250 additional students this year.

School officials said they were not sure what schools the 18 students will be attending.

Every school in the county is overcrowded, school officials have said, and there has been concern for some time about how to handle an expected increase in student population in coming years.

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