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Student moves proposed

March 15, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.VA. - When Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon talked to a group of parents at Hedgesville Elementary School on Monday night about redrawing school attendance areas, he discussed it from the viewpoint of an administrator, as well as a parent.

As a parent, Arvon said he knows how it feels to have children moved from school to school as officials try to keep populations balanced in the face of growth.

Arvon, who lives on Welltown Road, said school attendance zones for his children changed three times.

"That's because ... the face of our community has changed," Arvon told parents.

More than 100 parents and children packed a room at Hedgesville Elementary School to learn about a proposed attendance zone change for that school, a change that would affect about 120 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

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In an attempt to keep the student population under control at Hedgesville Elementary, Arvon recommended that three groups of students from the school be shifted to other elementary schools.

The first group, which would include about 45 students who live in and around the Rocky Glen mobile home park, would be moved to Marlowe Elementary School, Arvon said.

The second group, which would include about 30 students who live in the Spring Mills Commons area, would be moved to Bedington Elementary, Arvon said.

The third group, which would include about 40 students from the Welltown Road and Stribling Road areas, would be moved to Tuscarora Elementary School, Arvon said.

Arvon said his goal is to keep Hedgesville Elementary's population at about 500 students.

The school has about 420 students, but it would have more than 600 students without changes in its attendance zones, Arvon said.

Arvon talked about the challenges the school system faces as it tries to keep school populations even.

Since 1990, the Berkeley County school system has added nearly 5,000 students, Arvon said. The school system has built seven new schools and made renovations or additions to 14 schools in the last eight years.

Some parents were not happy about the prospect of a Hedgesville Elementary boundary change.

Michele Reynolds, who lives in the Welltown Road area, said she decided to move to the Hedgesville area because she wanted her daughter to attend Hedgesville-area schools, which have a good reputation.

Under the proposed attendance zone change, Reynolds fears her daughter will end up attending middle school and high school in Martinsburg, W.Va., rather than in Hedgesville.

"We'll just have to wait and see," Reynolds said.

Paul Maurer had the same concerns. Maurer said he bought a house in Hedgesville so his children could attend Hedgesville schools.

"I could have bought (a house) in Martinsburg for a lot less money," Maurer said.

Arvon said he expects the Berkeley County Board of Education to approve the new attendance zone next Monday.

If approved, the plan would go into effect at the beginning of classes next August, he said.

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