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Stafford board explores elementary school boundary options

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Nearly 100 Wildcats might find themselves in Bear territory next fall in an effort to prevent overcrowding in a Stafford County elementary school.

On Tuesday night, School Board members listened to seven options for redrawing elementary school boundaries to siphon students from Widewater Elementary School, where the student body is projected to surpass the building’s capacity in the upcoming school year.

A town hall meeting will be held March 6 at 6 p.m. at Widewater Elementary so parents and other community members can ask questions and voice concerns about the plans.

A redistricting committee made up of school staff and parents explored the options, and recommended one that would move about 50 Widewater students to Moncure Elementary School, plus add classroom trailers at Widewater. That option also suggests moving the 2-year-old special education preschool class from Moncure to a school that has not yet been chosen.

The students moving would be in the Port Aquia neighborhood. Other options called for students in the Hills of Aquia or Potomac Hills subdivisions to be moved to Moncure.

The Widewater Elementary population would swell mainly because of two new developments in the school’s attendance zone: Brentsmill and Hills of Aquia, said Scott Horan, assistant superintendent of facilities. He said that nearby development was “fast and furious.”

The redistricting committee considered the numbers of students receiving free and reduced lunches and the numbers of parents involved in parent–teacher organizations when selecting neighborhoods to switch schools, Horan said.

School Board Chairwoman Nanette Kidby said it was important to keep those factors in mind.

“We have to be able to balance our schools so our staff has the capacity and the ability to meet the day-to-day needs of students who may not have support at home,” she said.

School Board members expressed concerns about shelling out money for trailers while they’re looking at steep cuts in the budget. They suggested eliminating options that include modular classrooms. That would leave only five options to explore.

The board also worried that a school district-wide redistricting will need to occur in two or three more years as more new neighborhoods are developed in the county. School Board members wanted to make sure that any students who would be moved in this specific redistricting scenario would not be moved again when school boundaries are redrawn.

Patricia Healy said that the redistricting process needed to be approached with caution.

“It is emotional, it’s very personal and it has a big impact on families and we have to do the best we can,” Healy said.

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973


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