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An overcrowded Yorktown Elementary School might not have to house students from at least one of the county’s upcoming residential developments if a proposed rezoning is approved.
Yorktown Crescent, which will be located to the southeast of Route 17’s intersection with Fort Eustis Boulevard, would send its elementary school students to Seaford Elementary School instead of Yorktown Elementary School under the proposal.
With both elementary schools in the York Zone, there would be no change for older students from that neighborhood attending Yorktown Middle and York High schools.
The school division is hosting a community forum 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the York High School auditorium to present the proposed Yorktown Crescent rezoning to parents and residents in order to get feedback and answer questions prior to making an official recommendation to the school board.
Projections from county staff show Yorktown Crescent, which has not yet been constructed, would yield about 27 elementary school students at buildout. The Yorktown Crescent developer told the school division residents would be living in the complex – made up of townhouses and apartments – before the 2016-17 school year begins.
York County School Division staff and superintendent briefed the school board on the proposal at the Feb. 8 work session, requesting to conduct a public forum and public hearing on the rezoning proposal before the school board votes rather than form an advisory committee. Both methods are options in the school division’s bylaws.
The school board agreed with staff’s recommendation, with both board members and staff recognizing the proposed rezoning would not solve the overcrowding problem at Yorktown Elementary but prevent it from worsening.
“This has to be a starting point, in my mind. I think we need to portray it that way. … This is one small piece that we’re starting with and then we know what we have to do in the future. We’ve got rezoning issues,” Chairman Robert George (District 5) said.
While school board members supported the division staff’s preference for the process, some urged the school division to use the time in front of the public wisely in order to garner feedback now on the larger rezoning that will come with the opening of a new elementary school in a few years.
Mark Medford (District 3) suggested Fort Eustis Boulevard could be a natural dividing line for Seaford and Yorktown elementary schools. If Yorktown Crescent feeds into Seaford Elementary, the residential area across the street – behind and near the Bojangles on Route 17 – is the only section to the south of Fort Eustis Boulevard in that area not in the Seaford zone.
Yorktown Elementary could see an additional 135 students from anticipated new developments in the district once they are built out over the next few years, according to the school division.
The average class size for the school is on par with the division average, which is close to 21 students per classroom for elementary schools.
Goals for average classroom size in the school division’s strategic plan are 20 students per one instructor for kindergarten through second grade and 25 to one for third through fifth grades, which are lower than state standards, said Katherine Goff, coordinator of community and public relations for YCSD.
While classrooms average less than 18 students for kindergarten through second grade at Yorktown Elementary, third grade is above the school division’s threshold at 25.4 students per classroom. Fourth and fifth grades are in line with the division-wide average.
The school division is also evaluating instructional capacity of each school building this year, which focuses on the ability of teachers and students to obtain key resources in a given school.
Goff said the school is working on every building now to develop the best formula and comparison for instructional capacity and building capacity.
She said building capacity is assessed at the beginning of each school year, while identifying the number of students in each classroom and addressing their specific needs, since enrollment changes regularly from year to year.
“Our numbers fluctuate. We have a very mobile enrollment because we are heavily federally impacted,” Goff said.