Christiansburg schools could face redistricting

Leaders discuss overcrowding, plan details

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Some children in Christiansburg may be going to a different school next year.

Montgomery County Public Schools are in the planning stages of redistricting. Leaders are looking at the needs of overcrowded schools and the availability at other schools.

Two schools in Christiansburg are well over capacity. Christiansburg Elementary, which was built in 1963, has nearly 100 extra kids this year. It’s population jumped from 411 last year to 460 this year. The school’s capacity is 366.

Christiansburg Primary School has 470 students despite a capacity of 396.

School leaders are considering having some children at those two schools go to either the expanded Falling Branch Elementary or a future Belview Elementary, which still doesn’t have a location but is expected to be finished with a capacity of 250 students in three to five years.

School leaders say students who get switched to Falling Branch may start there as early as next fall and students who are moved to Belview should get two to three years notice of the change.

Schools spokeswoman Brenda Drake said the district is still trying to figure out which kids should go where.

“At the end of the day we know we have to make a decision. We have to create some more room in Christiansburg and so we're going to move some students but we want to make it as easy as we can,” she said.

Drake said parents and local businesses will get a say in the redistricting.

“Input is paramount when you look at this process. We never want to go in and just draw a line and say 'This is where the line is and next year this is what happens,’” she said.

While working through the challenges overcrowding presents, Christiansburg Elementary School Principal Malinda Morgan praises the efforts of teachers.

“The larger those classrooms are the harder it is to give that individual and group attention. They do it and they do the best they can but it does add to that strain for them,” she said.

She admits that redistricting can be a sensitive topic.

“It's not going to be an easy process. I think, when you talk about redistricting, everyone's attached to what they consider their home school,” Morgan said.

Parent Suzanne Dunn understands the need to move students around but was hesitant to embrace the idea of redistricting.

“It's better for the children whether parents want to admit it or not,” she said.

She believes there may be many parents who don’t support the changes.

“There are parents who grew up here in Christiansburg who went to CPS and CES and enjoy the fact that their children are going to the same school that they went to,” she said.

Parents said the talk of redistricting reminds them of a previous controversy in the area, when school leaders were discussing moving the high school start time to later in the morning.

Christiansburg Primary School has children in kindergarten through second grade and Christiansburg Elementary School has grades three through five.