School board rejects student transfer plan

by Kim Robins - Posted on Jun 26, 2013 - 01:56 PM

With a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the Gloucester County School Board rejected a school attendance zone change that would have transferred 32 children from Botetourt Elementary to Petsworth Elementary this fall.

The redistricting was proposed by school division officials in an effort to reduce student-teacher ratios at the crowded Botetourt campus while slightly increasing ratios at Petsworth, where enrollment has declined. The change would have affected families that reside in neighborhoods along Indian Road between Harcum Road and Figg Shop Road.

Assistant school division superintendent John Hutchinson said that, when developing the plan, school officials tried to choose a neighborhood that was cohesive, would not involve more travel time for students, and would move the fewest children that had previously been transferred from their schools.

The 32 children involved in the proposal included 10 rising fifth graders. Most of them were forced to change schools following attendance zone changes in 2009. The other 22 children were more evenly spread over kindergarten through fourth grade.

"My concern is that the largest group is the 10 fifth graders who would have moved twice and will be gone the next year," said board chairman Randy Burak. Burak said he had heard from parents that live in the affected area and none of them was anxious to make the move despite overcrowding at Botetourt.