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A switch in time?

School Board chairman to talk redistricting at tonight’s meeting

Story by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Tonight’s Waynesboro School Board meeting could lead to an interesting turn in the discussions of a controversial proposal to overhaul elementary education in the River City.

I talked this morning with School Board Chairman Jeremy Taylor, who told me that he will address the proposal-review process during an item on the agenda early in the meeting that gives Board members the opportunity to offer general thoughts on goings-on in the city school system.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at William Perry Elementary School.

“I’m going to make a few remarks about the process, and I would expect what I say to initiate remarks from other Board members about the process,” Taylor said.

Pressed for specifics, Taylor said he wanted to “reserve making further comment on that until the meeting tonight.”

On Tuesday, nearly 300 city residents attended a School Board public hearing on the proposal to reposition William Perry Elementary and Berkeley Glenn Elementary as beginning-tier elementary schools for students in the PreK, kindergarten, first and second grades, and Westwood Hills Elementary and Wenonah Elementary as second-tier elementary schools for students in grades three, four and five.

Critics of the proposal at the public hearing seemed to outumber supporters by about a 2-1 or 3-1 ratio, and even among the supporters the general feeling seemed to be that the School Board should take its time to review the proposal thoroughly before moving its adoption.

The issue that the school system is trying to address with the proposed reconfiguration is projected overcrowding at Westwood Hills, which could face a shortage of available classrooms in the 2010-2011 school year.

A committee of school administrators and elementary-school parents recommended to the School Board in December that it address the overcrowding issue with the reconfiguation of the city’s four elementary schools to the PreK-2 and 3-5 model.

The School Board has been working on a review timetable that would have a final decision on the proposal in February to allow administrators time to plan and implement necessary staffing and building changes in time for the start of the 2010-2011 school year.

  


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