Residents share schooling, growth concerns at forum

October 04, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Gaye and Phil Snyder run the Shenandoah School in Shepherdstown that teaches 20 students ages 3 to 5.

Both were present at the Jefferson County Commission Forum Wednesday night, along with 40 to 50 other people, and had a chance to share problems they are having with the county because their school is based out of their home.

"The county doesn't know how to do schools in houses," Gaye Snyder said.

By 2012, the state of West Virginia will require children to attend preschool, rather than starting their education in kindergarten, Gaye Snyder said.

"We operate a preschool and we've done a lot of research before we came to this area because there weren't any preschools in this area," she said.


Because Jefferson County does not have a definition for a school, the Shenandoah School is being treated as a commercial business, which requires a site plan and storm-water management, Gaye Snyder said.

This could cost the school $75,000 or more, which could force it to close.

Daniel Lutz of the U.S. Commerce Department expressed his concerns at the forum about an increasing population coming to Jefferson County in the near future.

Lutz said that Northern Virginia, including Loudoun and Fauquier counties, are considered some of the best employment locations worldwide. With such a close proximity to Jefferson County, Lutz worries that the county can't handle what that growth could bring.

"More people are going to come, more jobs are going to come (and we need to plan for that)," he said.

Lutz said he is also concerned about the educational system in Jefferson County.

"The system I came through - if you succeed, that's just happenstance," said Lutz, adding that some liberal arts colleges in New England educate students so they expect to succeed.

Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Surkamp has lived in Shepherdstown for 23 years and believes the biggest problem in the region is traffic.

"The state builds roads, and the town and the county have to work together to control them," Surkamp said, describing how trucks come through Shepherdstown to avoid weigh stations and cause dangerous situations on winding back roads. "(There has been) too many years of the town and county not telling the state what we need."

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