LOW MOOR, Va. (VR) – The Alleghany Highlands School Board held a public hearing on the proposed redistricting plan at Monday evening’s regular meeting at the Central Office Complex in Low Moor.
Hearing no comments, the board voted to close the public hearing only to reopen it shortly after when school bus driver Lynn Agee asked if she could make comments about the redistricting plan.
Agee explained that her bus route has been “cut straight in half, in an unnatural way.” She questioned what criteria was used that would have her pick up two kids to take to Sharon instead of Mountain View.
“I’m not against it, but it’s going to make it difficult,” said Agee, adding that the kids “are going to be so confused.”
As a native of Clifton Forge and having grown up in the area Agee was referring to, Danielle Morgan (CMS) agreed. “It’s not a natural cutoff. We need to make it make sense for the bus,” said Morgan.
“It’s going to take some work,” said Chairman Jacob Wright. “Some things are going to need to be tweaked,” including allowing kids to go out of the district in certain circumstances Wright explained. Tammy Scruggs-Duncan suggested the discussion be tabled until the next meeting, so the public would have a chance to digest it. Wright explained that the redistricting plan would be an action item at the next meeting.
“We will have a public comment period so we can discuss it prior to the May 8 meeting,” said Wright.
Carla Malcolm was concerned because her child is “two blocks from the cutoff.” She further explained that her child’s educational foundation had been established with years at Mountain View, and she believes the change in schools will be too disruptive.
Jennifer Smith wanted to know if this was the “only proposed plan,” as she bought her home based on being at Mountain View, and now her child will be at Sharon, according to the redistricting plan.
Allison Fox was up next and said she was excited to have more students at Callahan and couldn’t thank the board enough for the redistricting plan. She believes that kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. “If adults could be as resilient as children, we are going to do great,” said Fox in closing.
“I appreciate everybody’s patience and grace shown as we are trying to merge these two school systems together,” said Scruggs-Duncan during board and superintendent comments.
Vice Chairman Jonathan Arritt thanked everyone for the “feedback that you give throughout the year and for showing up here.”
Wright commented that “the redistricting is not an easy thing by any means; there are so many different parts to it.” He further explained that state requirements had to be met, as well as classroom size and travel distance.
“We’re right here in the home stretch, and that’s important,” said Superintendent Kim Halterman before wishing students, staff and their families “good luck as we go into the new year.”
The board approved Marie Fitzpatrick’s remote attendance via telephone and deleted a couple of administrative reports and recommendations, to include recognition of winter athletes from the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. Though there was a nice crowd in the room, the athletes were not present as they were away “doing spring sports,” said Wright. They will be recognized and commended at a later date.
There were no public comments. In other action, the board approved the following plans: summer school staffing, special education annual and career and technical education. They also heard a policy modification on a recruitment and retention support grant from the Virginia Department of Education in the amount of $30,000 and an update on roof replacement plans for Jackson River Technical Center and the Alleghany High School.
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