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Editorial: Rethinking ‘full’

Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm

It appears like a proposal to move students from schools nearing capacity to others with slightly more elbow room won’t become a reality anytime soon.

Tuesday night, a majority of the Hanover School Board failed to see the need. Current policy, after all, says that a school’s not full until it’s 120 percent full for three consecutive years. This means that a freshman at Lee-Davis High School would have to sit through classes at 120 percent capacity through his junior year before things might conceivably let up. Yes, that means longer lunch lines, crowded hallways, and longer waits to see who made varsity on the bulletin board for three full years.

While this threshold definitely encourages making the most of Hanover’s school facilities, we wonder if it shouldn’t be revisited.

The 120 mark seems, to the rational person, a bit high. Most parents would probably scoff at a school that was at 101 percent capacity.

The perception is that as school populations increase, less individual attention is dedicated to students. This may or may not be the case in Hanover, whose academic success and achievements are not being challenged here, but the perception is very real.

That being said, now’s probably not the time to redraw lines, but it’s an important issue, which shouldn’t be put on the backburner. While no one school is really bursting at the seams, there is an obvious discrepancy among high school capacities that shouldn’t be ignored, the issue being equity. High school students should have access to similar, if not identical, educational environments.

While we aren’t advocating for an overnight map change, perhaps the solution is to rearrange the way schools feed into other schools as a way to ease the burden on schools that are filling up and plug capacity holes at others. This could be done early on as a way to keep classmates together and avoid the disruption that sometimes accompanies redrawing district lines.

This would also be a way to plan for the future. Hanover had a banner year of residential construction last year with more on the way. This growth will inevitably find its way to the classroom in the coming years. The school system would be well-served to be prepared for it.