School redistricting committee looks to Greer Elementary, Jack Jouett Middle for relief

Next year, Greer Elementary School’s entire fifth grade class might be housed at Jack Jouett Middle School.

The potential scenario—to be presented for public feedback Sept. 29 at Albemarle High School—comes after significant lobbying by parents and Jouett principal Kathryn Baylor to hold the largely at-risk population of students at Greer and Jouett harmless from redistricting.

“It keeps those families together in a way we couldn’t otherwise,” said James Younger, who represents the western feeder pattern on Albemarle’s Redistricting Advisory Committee.

Schools officials and Committee members stressed that no final redistricting decisions have been made, and that if the move from Greer to Jouett were to be adopted, it would not be permanent.

Effectively, the temporary relocation would allow Greer to house a more manageable number of students while utilizing extra space at a school immediately next door.

Currently, Greer Elementary has 82 fourth grade students who occupy four classrooms, and within three years the total number of fourth graders is projected to be 102. At the same time, Jack Jouett Middle, is 147 seats under capacity, and is expected to be 73 seats under capacity in five years.

While Baylor said she and her staff could accommodate the new students, she said the biggest obstacle would be making sure that Jouett staff has room for the small group teaching they do as part of their school improvement plan. Because Jouett’s classrooms are large, open spaces, a small group often utilizes an entire classroom, Baylor said.

What’s more, Baylor wants to hear from others who would be impacted.

“I don’t know what a fifth grade parent would think, or what a fifth grade teacher would think,” Baylor said.

When asked if the move would negatively impact Greer, principal Robyn Bolling said that her team has designed the school so the fifth graders are the role models and leaders of the school, serving as hallway monitors and mentoring Bright Stars preschool students, amongst other duties.

“There are going to be some things that our staff would probably say the kids would be missing, but can we find ways to build that in? Probably,” Bolling said.

Jouett’s Baylor is optimistic about the community’s ability to handle the change.

“Of any of the two schools whose parents could deal with it, it’s ours,” Baylor said. “Our parents are great.”

Next week, the Committee also wants to hear from the residents of three neighborhoods that could be redistricted from Albemarle High School to Monticello High School.

The first would see 117 students—70 of whom are in high school—who live on Route 20 north of Proffit Road redistricted to Burley Middle School and Monticello High School.

The second scenario focuses on the students living along Rio Road east of the railroad tracks, and Rio Road east of Abbington to Pine Haven. Students in those areas would remain in the Agnor-Hurt Elementary School and Burley Middle School feeder pattern, but 144 high school students would start attending Monticello High School.

The third scenario would also see students remain in the Agnor-Hurt Elementary and Burley Middle feeder pattern, but would move 82 students from Albemarle High to Monticello High.

“[The Committee’s] recommendation may be some combination of those three neighborhoods: just one, maybe two, but not all three,” said Rosalyn Schmitt, assistant director of facilities planning for Albemarle’s schools.

The Committee will consider grandfathering some students, but those specifics will depend on the amount of students who are moved in the final recommendation.

The Committee will make their final recommendation to Superintendent Pam Moran Oct. 6.