Plan to alleviate overcrowding at Cosby High School approved

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - During a school board meeting Tuesday night, Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marcus Newsome unveiled his final plan to alleviate overcrowding at Cosby High School.

The decision came after the school board recommended Newsome find a solution to the problem during a meeting in January.  A community meeting and work session followed the school board's assignment.

Newsome announced that nine neighborhoods along or near Beach Road would be re-districted to Manchester High School.  That change will take affect during the 2012-2013 school year.  Forty-nine students currently in 7th grade would be the first class to make the switch.

Effective immediately, student transfers to Cosby High School will be denied unless approved by the superintendent.  Although no number has been announced yet, there will be a cap on students admitted to the health sciences specialty program at Cosby High School beginning fall 2012.

During the board meeting, Newsome said his decision was the least disruptive and the most cost-effective.

"I will have one at Cosby and I will be having two go to Manchester," said parent Susanne Diffee.  "Hopefully stay at Manchester and not be moved."

Outside the Chesterfield County Government Complex, Diffee explained how her neighborhood has been re-districted a handful of times over the last decade.

Newsome is aware that families in those nine neighborhoods have been shuffled around repeatedly.  "We need to be very sensitive to this community in the future and not do anything to put them in this type of situation again," said the superintendent.

School board member Omarh Rajah tried until the very end to delay a decision.

"I want to stand up for them if they were the biggest community or the smallest community," said Rajah who represents the Matoaca District.  "And the numbers clearly indicate within a year, Cosby is going to be under 120%."

Currently, Cosby High School is about 500 students over capacity.  It the most overcrowded high school, the second most overcrowded school in the county.  Watkins Elementary is the most overcrowded school in Chesterfield.

Cosby High School currently has nine portable classrooms and alternative spaces were transformed into classroom spaces.

Manchester High School is about 300 students below capacity.  Monacan and Midlothian High School are also under capacity.

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