CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Board of Education administrators could consider redrawing attendance zones for Overbrook Elementary School in response to complaints that overcrowding has plagued the school for years.
Assistant Superintendent Jane Roberts said she and Superintendent Ron Duerring met with transportation officials Friday to discuss possible solutions for new bus routes to help alleviate the problem.
"We're going to start looking at redistricting scenarios. This is only a planning meeting. There won't be any decisions made," she said. "Redistricting is a very long process. It's not something administration just decides without the public. It's way too early to say what is going to happen, but we are starting the initial discussions about where busses could take some of the children."
Overbrook's PTO president Eugenie Taylor said she met with Duerring last week to discuss redistricting and possible changes to policy.
"Duerring and his staff have been working hard with the transportation department on a proposal for us parents that will provide a phase-in approach to decrease the Overbrook numbers by about 60, which is a start," she said.
"They are looking at responsible measures for addressing policies that might be contributing to the problem, as well as potentially redistricting."
Under current Kanawha County code, families who move to a different attendance area may elect to maintain residency in their student's original school.
"Duerring is very sensitive to keeping kids comfortable, and doesn't want to yank them away from their friends. He wants to protect kids who have problematic families whose only lifeline is school, and we certainly appreciate not further traumatizing a child who's already vulnerable," Taylor said.
"The heartstring stories are always there. That's wonderful until you're hurting vast numbers of other kids."
Parents are pushing for the current policy to be revised so it's dependent on enrollment numbers, Taylor said.
Kanawha County Board of Education President Pete Thaw said the South Hills area has not been redistricted in his 14 years on the board, and said Roberts is the expert on that history.
"I have no idea when redistricting occurred up there," Roberts said. "I've been in this job six years and know we haven't done any since then. It's been brought up at several board meetings, but there is never a lot of support for redistricting."
"Communication is 70 percent of their problem," Taylor said about the school board.
Overbrook Elementary has a total of 479 students. Several surrounding elementary schools in the area have under 300 students. Kenna Elementary, which is less than two miles from Overbrook, has 187 students. Holz Elementary, a five-minute-drive from Overbrook, currently has 297 students.
At a board meeting last week, Overbrook parents complained that students were forced to share textbooks and stand in longer lunch lines and are at risk of possible safety and health issues.