Parents Speak Out Over Possible Bedford Co. School Redistricting

Bedford, VA - Parents in Bedford County have a lot of concerns over proposed redistricting of the elementary schools there.

Seven schools and 260 students could be affected by the proposals.

Every person that spoke on this issue at a public hearing during Thursday's school board meeting was against it. Many parents said it just simply doesn't make sense.

Among a multitude of issues parents have, by far, number one was the distance students would have to travel to their new school.

"There's kids right down the street from us getting on the bus at 6:40 a.m. For Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, that's way too early" said one parent.

The proposed lines say it all. Nine of 11 parents, who spoke out against the possible redistricting, live in the Otter River Elementary Zone. The changes would uproot some of those students, and place them in Big Island.

"I anticipate going from a less than five minute trip to school to over 40 minutes to Big Island" said one man.

"We bought and built on our property on the assumption that our child would be going to that school" said another.

"We don't understand why you're sending our children 20-25 miles to another school, when we're all less than seven miles away from the present school, Otter River" said one woman.

Concerns for parents vary: potential impact on property value, inhibiting the social development of students, and much longer rides to school.

"Big Island Highway is to me, considered a dangerous road when you've got tractor trailer trucks coming during the dark" said one woman.

"Enacting this plan introduces a needless increased safety risk for the children in this area" said a Father.

But County officials say some schools are overcrowded.

Forest Elementary, they say, at 460 students is 70 students over its capacity; New London Academy, 23 students over its limit of 316. And Big Island they point out, at 177 students is drastically under capacity of 300.

Otter River Elementary is also under capacity. Moving those students is being considered to make room for students leaving the crowded schools.

There are two more public hearings before any decision will be reached on this. These proposed changes would take effect in June of 2013.

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