Balancing School Enrollment

Overcrowding is an issue that has plagued Albemarle County for years. It’s also an issue that always seems to take us off- guard and is never fully resolved. Even worse, overcrowding leads to struggling or disadvantaged students being left without the help they need to be successful. Students struggle to find necessary 1:1 time with teachers, and teachers themselves struggle the find the necessary classroom space to complete work. Alternately at under- enrolled schools, both Professional Learning Communities and student communities can struggle.

To begin addressing this problem, we need to stop seeing overcrowding as something that can be addressed with a single set of expansion projects. With projected population growth and continued increased enrollment across the district, overcrowding will continue to appear time and time again. I believe that we can fix this by constantly exploring expansion options. This would include asking district architects and infrastructure planners to plan further expansions once one expansion has been completed (Before enrollment numbers exceed school capacity), and to explore an easily expandable building design that is modeled with expansion needs in mind. This concept, along with the forward- planning process of anticipating the need for future building expansion, will help us better prepare for overcrowding in the future.

To make efforts to find a more permanent solution to the overcrowding issue, I would also direct the Albemarle County Planning Commission to explore zoning, development, and redistricting reform to help us better spread the load of enrollment. Through continued consideration of these three key items we can begin to eliminate the population pockets that create enrollment burdens on some schools but leave other schools significantly under- enrolled in comparison.