Thursday, February 29, 2024

Overcrowding Concerns Loom Amid Spot Rezoning Proposal

A proposal is being considered to rezone the new Yorktown Crescent development from Yorktown Elementary School to Seaford Elementary School. (Courtesy of York County School Division)
A proposal is being considered to rezone the new Yorktown Crescent development from Yorktown Elementary School to Seaford Elementary School. (Image courtesy of York County School Division)

As the York County School Division prepares for a potential rezoning of an unbuilt neighborhood, parents and residents continue to raise concerns over the overall issue of new developments affecting overcrowding in schools.

The proposal would rezone the new Yorktown Crescent development off Route 17 from Yorktown Elementary School to Seaford Elementary School, which is projected to add 27 elementary school children to the division. The rezoning would not affect middle and high school.

School officials presented the proposal and fielded questions and concerns Wednesday during a community forum at York High School.

The forum is the first public input portion of the process to rezone the development. The school board elected to organize a public forum, which will be at the next regular meeting, and a public hearing as opposed to forming an advisory committee – a method more common for larger rezoning proposals.

Many attending the community forum welcomed the idea of rezoning Yorktown Crescent, but did not shy away from complaining about the overall overcrowding issue facing the school division.

Carl James, chief operations officer for the school division, said a dozen new developments in the works could bring nearly 400 additional elementary students to the division once they are completed, based on figures compiled by the county planning commission.

“There are many developments that are going to impact our schools,” he said.

James called the Yorktown Crescent rezoning a “first step” to what will be addressed in the coming year regarding enrollment growth at elementary schools.

While the average class size at Yorktown Elementary hovers around the division-wide average and below the division’s targets, the school is near the target total capacity of 700 students for elementary schools with 693 students as of February.

The school division is also working to add an additional modular classroom at the school for next school year as well as Magruder Elementary.

“We like the small school. We think it’s better for the community. We think it’s better for those students in a smaller environment,” James said.

James said the school division felt comfortable with adding the 27 projected students over time at Seaford Elementary, however, the larger question still remains as to addressing the larger issue of balancing enrollment and adding a new elementary school, which has been part of the division’s capital improvement plan.

The school division considers a number of items when rezoning, including maintaining discrete geographical areas, setting boundary lines with roadways and waterways, and keeping families in the same school zones among others, James said

James and staff will share feedback from Wednesday’s forum with the school board at the next work session March 21. A public forum will follow March 28 during the school board’s regular meeting, where residents can address the board directly.

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