Hopewell considers school rezoning
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Apr 21, 2014, 12:43
HOPEWELL — Hopewell City Public Schools have seen an increase in students transferring into the district as well as a large number transferring out of the district. With these numbers fluctuating, the School Board could begin discussions on rezoning the elementary schools.
At the school board meeting on April 10, Dr. John Fahey, superintendent of HCPS, told the board that Dupont Elementary School has more than 720 students, with Patrick Copeland at 660 and Harry E. James at 680 students. Fahey noted, that to his knowledge, the population at Dupont has never been that large.
“It’s really a matter of a few streets that could really equalize the population,” Fahey said. He added that a number of students who live a few blocks from Harry E. James have to take a bus to Patrick Copeland due to zoning restrictions,.
With such a large number of students at Dupont, Christopher Reber, vice chairman of the board, voiced concern about the number of staff to handle the large student base.
“Most classes are all reasonable,” Fahey said, with most classes at 25 students or below.
The influx of students at the schools in the district is also a product of students transfering in and out of Hopewell. Fahey said the average daily membership is up 102 students since the start of school in September.
“We have almost 700 kids coming and going at all times,” Fahey said, with 347 students transferring to HCPS and 289 students leaving the district since the beginning of this school year.
Ninety-nine students have transferred to Hopewell Schools from out of state, 42 have transferred from Chesterfield Public Schools, 60 have transferred from Petersburg and 78 students have come from other districts in the state. Out of the number of students transferring into Hopewell schools, 92 transferred into Carter G. Woodson, with the high school following at 71 students.
Seventy-nine students transferred out of HCPS to another state, the largest of the number of transfers out of the division. Sixty-seven students transferred from Hopewell to another school district in the the state and 42 students transferred out of Hopewell into Chesterfield schools. Seventy four students left the high school, the largest number of students transferring out, with 61 students leaving Carter Woodson Middle.
“Every community has become transient,” said School Board member Dr. Deborah Marks said. “It’s not like it used to be.”
Dr. Fahey said perhaps the biggest burden of transfer students falls upon the shoulders of the teachers in each school.
“Because you’ve invested years with these students and then they’re gone and then you get a new batch,” he said.
School Board member Shirl Jefferson also echoed Dr. Fahey’s sentiments, noting that teachers have a difficult time in the classrooms.
“Our teachers have so much to deal with before they can even start to begin to really teach,” she said.
With the ever increasing rigor of the Standards of Learning tests and the desire of students to add new courses to the curriculum at the high school, Dr. Rodney Berry, principal of Hopewell High School, told the board at the meeting of several new courses that will appear for the next school year.
The high school is expected to add four seminars specific to course study: history literacy, science literacy, english literacy and math literacy.
“Some seminars have been added to really strengthen their [students’] academic ability skills in preparation for and in an effort to help students pass their SOL tests,” Fahey said. “I think this is going to help a lot of kids.”
Berry also spoke on the addition of the English 11 Foundations class. This class, Berry said, was added to give students a needed “step” to aid in foundation skills.
“This was the step we added to give our students some remediations and reinforcement before they take the SOL tests.”
Fahey said the addition of this one-credit class, the same as the credits for the four seminars, also gives those identified students the ability to be in a year-long English class.
The high school is also looking to add a German I and German II class as well as a Dual Enrollment, French 110 class, which represents a partnership with Virginia State University.
Hopewell High is also looking to form a partnership with Clover Hill High School, of which Dr. Deborah E. Marks is the principal.
“We have 39 AP classes and we want to fill them to the max,” Marks said. “So give me your children.”
Because Clover Hill and Hopewell High operate on two different scheduling structures, the division is considering mobile classes, which would be televised.
Though no official solution was given, Fahey said the administration will continue to discuss on how to provide the most learning opportunities for students at the high school.
“We can make a list of courses, present them to the kids, see which could work and then find personnel and schedule it,” he said.