Concerned parents create petition against school district proposed changes

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Since Rockingham County's School Board meeting last Monday, several parents concerned about proposed changes to the school district have started a petition to create more awareness of the changes.

The petition so far has more than 900 signatures.

"I felt like nobody knew this was going to come upon them and we were going to get slapped in the face," Aerika Williams, the creator of the petition, said.

Williams went to the school board's last meeting to learn more about the changes which could be coming soon to the school district. Williams said the proposals directly impact her and her children.

One idea announced at the meeting would affect where students at South River Elementary in Grottoes would go to middle school.

"I created the petition because there was a lot of going back and forth and whispering about the potential proposal to redistrict Grottoes to go to Elkton Middle School," Williams said.

Williams said if this plan goes through, she'd be even farther away from her child and would have to find and pay for some form of childcare.

She's not the only parent concerned, Maite Taylor, a parent, also signed the petition as she's worried where her daughter who's in 7th grade will be going for 8th grade.

Part of the changes could mean rising 8th graders at middle schools may go to East Rockingham High School next year.

"Their proposal is to move our children to another middle school which clearly also doesn't have room if they then have to move 8th grade to the high school," Taylor said.

Dr. Oskar Scheikl, School Superintendent, said the central office and transportation staff worked to find the most feasible plans in the fight against school overcrowding in the district. He said the plan presented would be most efficient and have minimum affect on moving staff around.

"So what we expect is that over the next five years, Montevideo Middle School will actually add at least 120 students and Spotswood High School 150 and so that would be significantly overcapacity, " Sheikl said.

Although these changes have not happened yet, Scheikl said, in the end, he wants what's best out of the tax dollars spent for this, for students to get the best education.

"Again, we ran a number of different options and this is the one that makes the most sense from our perspective," Scheikl said.

Taylor also said she is concerned of some of the other proposed changes such as the school start time and the removal of honor classes at the high school level.

Last Monday's meeting was the first of five community meetings for the community to provide input and Scheikl said a decision will be made in January or even as late as February.

The upcoming community meeting dates are:

Nov. 25 — Grottoes Community Room
Dec. 9 — Broadway Community Center
Jan. 27 — Keezletown Ruritan Hall
Feb. 10 — Bridgewater Town Hall