On Monday, members of Roanoke City Council and the Roanoke City School Board met in one of their periodic joint meetings. The timing of this, coming as it did on the heels of the municipal election, allowed Mayor David Bowers to bring up an oddly worded topic – expansions at burgeoning elementary schools – that he says he heard while campaigning and wanted to know if the school board is prepared to handle more students. (Bowers, you may recall, during the last election admonished the board for closing too many “neighborhood” school.)
I’m passing this information along for those with children in the city school system who might have heard concerns of overcrowding.
It is true, Chairman Dave Carson said, that student population is on the rise in city schools contrary to prognosticators’ dire warning that the city’s and school’s population would spiral downward.
But it is also true that city schools a few years ago underwent redistricting of attendance zones to better balance student population at the elementary schools, and it will continue to do this every five years.
Also, the school board continues to advance its “equity” project so that all schools have the same types of amenities, such as music rooms, gyms, art rooms and so on. While projects remain — $4 million worth will occur this summer – they can be tackled only as fast as money is available. One benefit: The number of classroom trailers has gone from 40 a few years ago to 13. By the start of the next term, that figure will be reduced to 10. One major project, renovation to Round Hill, will take place once the sale goes through on Huff Lane.
“The capacity of all our schools is greater than the current student populace,” Carson said. If that changes, the board will make adjustments.