School faces overcrowding

Published 12:47 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

By Ella Bronaugh


Carrollton Elementary School, a kindergarten through third-grade school known for its advanced reading, STEM and coding programs, has been providing quality education to its students since the ’90s, but with Carrollton’s recent surge in population growth, overcrowding has become a problem.

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Recent developments in Carrollton such as Benn’s Grant, the Nest on 17 in Eagle Harbor and more have created a great strain on Isle of Wight County School’s resources and space, particularly in Carrollton.

Victoria “Vicky” Hulick, chairman of the Isle of Wight County School Board and representative for the Newport District, is concerned about the potential for overcrowding in the 2018-2019 school year and beyond.

“The overcrowding has been slowly creeping in, but now it’s become a more and more imminent problem,” Hulick said over the phone. “With all of these big developments that are coming in, our schools are going to be hit the hardest in the northern part of the county, and this will affect all other areas of the county.”

Last year, Carrollton Elementary was almost at its 728-student capacity, holding about 695 students. Originally intended as a kindergarten through fifth-grade school, it was recently changed to hold only kindergarten through third grade, with Westside Elementary holding the fourth- through sixth-graders to accommodate for the overcrowding.

hough other schools in the county have a class size of around 18, Carrollton Elementary’s class size averages between 22 and 26.

“We’re trying to keep class sizes reasonable,” Hulick said. “We’ve already seen a population that’s increased and outgrown a school, so much so that we’re shuffling kids around the schools.”

This problem is not isolated in Carrollton. With overcrowding in the elementary schools, high schools will see bubbles of increased numbers of students. Last year, Windsor and Smithfield high schools had huge spike in the freshmen and sophomore class sizes, with some teachers teaching 45-student classes, and requiring the school district to purchase 200 extra laptops.

According to a long-range study, Isle of Wight County Schools can expect an increase of 899 students from the approved developments in Carrollton by 2022. The School Board is working on developing a long-term plan that will accommodate this predicted increase of students, such as potentially building a new elementary school that will hold 800 to 1,000 students.

“These long-range planning conversations will be instrumental to the children’s education because it’ll directly affect them,” Hulick said. “We’re looking into adding on to schools, renovating other schools and possibly building a new elementary school in the northern area of the county.”

Though these plans will be essential to solving any future overcrowding at Isle of Wight County Schools, the potential for overcrowding in the 2018-2019 school year could still be a problem. The district is currently receiving an average of half a student from every Benn’s Grant household — a higher rate than average.

“We’re trying to be as proactive as possible, but we don’t want to put the cart before the horse either,” Hulick said. “It’s a tricky spot to be in.”