Dealing with overcrowded schools in Chesterfield

By Beth Danziger, NBC12 News

Where and how Chesterfield students go to school could change soon. A growth task force is now in place to come up with future school sites and alternatives to building as well.

The task force met Thursday for the first time. Over the next five months it hopes to come up with ways to deal with the county's present and future overcrowding issues.

Heather Rawes' daughter will be in kindergarten next year and she already has another in elementary school. One fear of hers: Her children learning in trailers.

Rawes says, "It's not fun to see a whole bunch of trailers outside the school."

Tomahawk Creek, along with a Elizabeth Davis Middle School, were built this year to help with overcrowding. And to get students like those at Midlothian Middle School back in regular classrooms.

But, that might not be a clear cut option in the future. School Board member David Wyman says, "The price of schools have gone up in the last five years in particular."

This 17 member task force now has the job to look at different ways Chesterfield can grow budget friendly in the future. One idea: schools on lots smaller than one hundred acres of land in older areas of the county.

Wyman says,"We are seeing older citizens moving out and being replaced by young adults in affordable homes with 2, 3, 4 kids, they need to be accommodated in our school system."

Other ideas could be more controversial, like redistricting the county to fill up schools with lower enrollment numbers.

Also an option suggestions that came out of a plan from Thomas Dale High School. It includes having students go to school on staggering schedules, letting more take online classes or graduate early.

Wyman says, "I think you just have to do the best with the resources you have and make the best plan you can."

The task force hopes to present its recommendations to the public and School Board in November.

The recommendations picked will also help the county leaders as they update Chesterfield's comprehensive plan.

(c) 2008. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.