With construction of an expansion of Crozet Elementary under way, the Albemarle County school division is gearing up for a redistricting process to fill the additional seats.
The county School Board signed off on the plan Thursday. A 10-person committee will review data and redistricting options over the course of several meetings from September to December, with a goal of making a recommendation to schools Superintendent Matt Haas by the end of the calendar year.
The $20.4 million, 28,000-square-foot expansion of Crozet will add about 340 seats to the school and address overcrowding in the division’s western feeder pattern. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearby Brownsville Elementary had nearly 900 students while the building’s capacity was 764. At Crozet, enrollment was up to 360 students, 30 more than the building’s capacity.
Brownsville currently has eight mobile classrooms on site because of the overcrowding.
The Crozet project, which started in May, is slated to be finished by the start of next school year, when the new boundaries will go into effect. The project includes a three-story addition, new bus loop, improved play areas and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
The redistricting process will be the first since 2017, when Woodbrook Elementary was expanded and more than 200 students changed schools.
School Board members received an overview of the redistricting process and timeline at their Aug. 12 meeting. Under the proposed timeline, the board will hold a public hearing in January and then vote on Haas’ recommendation.
Four committee members will represent Brownsville and four will represent Crozet, along with one representative from the Long Range Planning Advisory Committee. The final member of the committee will be recommended by the Office of Community Engagement, according to division documents.
Applications for the committee opened up after Thursday’s approval. The committee will hold at least two community meetings to present different redistricting scenarios and hear feedback before making a recommendation to Haas.
Patrick McLaughlin, the division’s chief of strategic planning, will oversee the committee.
The new attendance areas for the two schools should serve the district for at least three to five years with a goal of five to seven, according to an outline of the redistricting study.
“Our goal is to make the most long-term decisions,” said Rosalyn Schmitt, the division’s chief operating officer, at the Aug. 12 meeting. “Enrollment data and projections are less accurate the further out.”
Additionally, the committee should strive for a greater demographic balance among the two schools, among other guiding principles.
Whether to grandfather students will be up to the School Board.