Crozet Elementary Facing Staffing Cuts Over Drooping Roll Count

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[More in the February Gazette here.]

The Crozet Elementary PTO meeting  December 13.
The Crozet Elementary PTO meeting December 13.

Music teaching and library services at Crozet Elementary School will go from full-time to part-time next year now that the school’s student population has dropped to 287.

County schools Chief Operating Officer Josh Davis laid the situation out to an attentive and alarmed crowd of parents at a PTO meeting in the school’s library Dec. 13.

“Three hundred [students] is a plateau in staffing,” he explained. “Below 300 you don’t have full-time positions in some areas.” He said school data predicts that the roll count will stay at 287 beyond next year too.

Davis said parents could support a suggestion from Assistant Superintendent Billy Haun that the policy threshold be dropped to 285.

Parents judged that as still too close for comfort and were wary.

One parent wondered if families now homeschooling could be approached about coming to public school.

Ravi Respeto said the staffing drop, to a level Crozet has not known in years, results in “a sharp disparity in services between Crozet and Brownsville Elementary. The culture of our school is being affected.

“We’re also concerned that we are losing enrichment services as we see the number of free and reduced lunch kids grow,” she said.

Some parents worried that Crozet might become seen as the lesser of the two town grade schools and that might affect property values and sales.

Another parent wondered if the areas along Brown’s Gap Turnpike and in White Hall that were redistricted in 2008 out of Crozet’s attendance zone into Meriwether Lewis Elementary’s zone could be shifted back to Crozet. Meriwether Lewis foresaw a similar staffing cut in its future at the time. Davis said Meriwether is now actually operating above its capacity.

Answering a question, Davis noted that the student population at Brownsville is growing and is expected to top 700 kids within three years. New school-age children moving into Old Trail will all go to Brownsville.

PTO vice president Monica Brooks reported to the group that Brownsville PTO leaders “are fully aware and have reached out us.” There was reportedly a suggestion from Brownsville leaders that the schools might declare themselves sister schools.

A 12-person subcommittee of the Crozet PTO has formed to fix the problem. It meets Jan. 5 to organize and will describe a game plan to the full PTO Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.

For historical reasons related to  when they were built, some neighborhoods along Rt. 240 east to go Crozet school, such as Highlands, and some, such as Western Ridge and Wickham Pond, go to Brownsville.

One solution would be to send all those neighborhoods that tie into Rt. 240 to Crozet school. No one knew how many children that really amounts to, but assumed it would get them back over the 300 student threshold. If it didn’t harm staffing counts at Brownsville to lose that many students, the move might gain Brownsville more time at the size it is.

Shifts in the attendance zone boundary between Crozet and Brownsville schools have a long history. In the most recent move, neighborhoods along Jarmans Gap Road shifted to Brownsville.

PTO members remembered that when the redistricting for Meriwether was done three years ago it was officially enacted over the spring and in effect for the next school year.

3 COMMENTS

  1. While I believe all schools in Albemarle County are of the highest quality, some schools are a better fit for my two boys. I recently bought a home in Wickham Pond because Brownsville Elementary is this neighborhood’s school. How can people talk so nonchalantly about redistricting, as if it has so little impact on kids’ social, academic, and emotional well-being. I hope it’s not as easy as the Crozet Gazette and PTO makes it out to be.

    • The reason Crozet is in the situation is due to two redistrictings in the last five years taking too many kids from the school and leaving it nearly 100 students below capacity.

      This isn’t the school’s fault – Brownsville and MWL got those students and now both are bursting at the seams.

      It’s a fairness issue – we need more students and families at Crozet and it needs to happen soon. We are facing all sorts of problems from low enrollment issues. These things happen in times of rapid growth and trust me no one wanted to be moved during those redistricting events. I am sure it will be painful but it has to happen again to balance the community.

      Crozet has traditionally been a strong, wonderful elementary school and we need that balance back. Yes, it is as easy as the Gazette and the PTO has pointed out and 3 yrs ago when they took all those families and put them into other schools it was done in less than six months.

      Mary Brown
      Crozet Parent

      • I agree with Mary. It is not the school’s fault. I love how they keep saying the enrollment has dropped as if it was a surprise, instead of saying the enrollment was intentionally lowered by the county. Crozet School should not suffer because the county took those children (and siblings of those children) away. I have said this before: I don’t think our school community should be punished with the loss of staff resources because the county decided to twice redistrict children away from the school in recent years. We went from being overcrowded a few years back to now being in danger of losing precious resources because we don’t have the numbers. It doesn’t seem fair to continue taking from Crozet. I love our small community and the special attention all of the kids receive, but not if the kids are going to potentially lose out on educational opportunities and our wonderful staff.

        Alisa Sposato
        Crozet Parent

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