CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Parents concerned with overcrowding at John Adams Middle School asked Kanawha County education officials Thursday to throw out the option of redistricting and to find the funding to expand the school instead.
Several parents said they chose the location of their home based on school attendance zones so that their children could attend John Adams and George Washington High School, which they believe are the best schools in the state.
Parents said if redistricting forces their children to attend South Charleston schools, they will move in order to be in the John Adams and George Washington school district.
"We want our kids to go to that school, and that's not changing if we get redistricted. I can tell you that I, and other families, will not send our kids to South Charleston. I will sell my home at a loss and move my kids to get them in the district," said Chanin Wolfingbarger Krivonyak at the county board meeting Thursday evening.
"Redistricting is a poorly applied Band-Aid. Most of these kids are going to end up moving and going there anyways," she said. "I understand we are in tough economic times, but the only solution is finding the money to expand. Us, as parents, are willing to come up with whatever we can to help."
John Adams currently enrolls 740 students, more than any other middle school in the county, and seven portable classrooms are being used to help relieve the overcrowding. South Charleston Middle has 382 students, while other area middle schools have fewer than 500.
Education administrators recently contemplated moving Ruthlawn and Alum Creek elementary schools into the South Charleston attendance zone to gradually decrease John Adams' enrollment.
Krivonyak, a mother of three students at Ruthlawn, broke into tears when telling the board about the impact she fears redistricting would have.
"Some of these families can't afford to buy a house in South Hills like I can, and those are the kids that will suffer. It's sending the wrong message to tell kids that the less advantaged don't get to go to the best middle school because their parents can't afford to buy a house in district," she said.
Allen Bell, developer of The Ridges in South Charleston, said he has sold more than $70 million in homes since 2008 and that many residents are families interested in the school district.
Krivonyak and other parents suggested the board establish a bond to support funding to expand the John Adams building and offered to help come up with private funding, as well.
"We would support a bond initiative that could supply middle schools throughout the county with the help they need. I believe that all students, regardless of zip code, deserve those AP classes and college applications. Even if your kids are in the first grade, it's a competitive environment out there," said Karen McElhinny, a mother of two at Ruthlawn.
Lou Ann Cyrus, the Local School Improvement Council chairwoman for Alum Creek Elementary, said John Adams needs Alum Creek, a Title I school, because it includes a mix of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.