Gloucester County Public Schools open for the 2012-2013 school year on Tuesday, and many students will find themselves in new surroundings and in full classrooms this fall.
School officials closed T.C. Walker Elementary School at the end of the 2011-2012 school year due to budget constraints and a falling elementary enrollment division-wide. This necessitated an adjustment of school attendance zones, which dispersed the former Walker pupils to Botetourt, Bethel, Abingdon or Achilles elementary schools.
The new attendance zones also send a few children from Achilles to Abingdon, from Botetourt to Petsworth and from Bethel to Botetourt and Petsworth. According to updated figures provided to the Gloucester School Board this month, the five county elementary schools will now each have room for at least 75 more children based on their estimated capacities.
While the school buildings have room for more children, many classrooms will be at or above the student/teacher ratio standards that the school board would like to maintain. Employee reductions over the past three years, through attrition and also brought on by budget constraints, will mean full classrooms.