Harrisonburg City Public Schools
Harrisonburg City Public Schools is a public school division in Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States. The division includes one high school (Harrisonburg High School), two middle schools (Thomas Harrison Middle School, Skyline Middle School), six elementary schools (W.H. Keister Elementary School, Smithland Elementary School, Spotswood Elementary School, Stone Spring Elementary School, Waterman Elementary School, and Bluestone Elementary School), Elon Rhodes Early Learning Center and a vocational school, Massanutten Technical Center.
More than 6,000 students are enrolled in HCPS, and of these more than 35% are English language learners (English as a Second Language, ESL), making the school system one of the most diverse in the state of Virginia. The top foreign languages spoken by students are Spanish, Russian, and Kurdish. More than 50 additional languages are spoken by students.
In recent years[when?], controversy has surrounded the construction of a new high school as well as the use of the old building. Initial discussions indicated the old building was to become a 5th and 6th grade intermediate school. However, in March 2005, the school board voted to turn the old high school property over to the city. This allowed Harrisonburg City Council to enter into a five-year $7.5 million lease of the old high school property (building, athletic fields, and parking lots) to James Madison University in July 2005. The agreement included an option to purchase the property, which JMU capitalized on, in May 2006, with an offer to purchase the property at $17 million. In June 2006, the sale was approved by the city council, as a method of funding street improvements and a new school.
Construction of Skyline Middle School And Smithland Elementary was completed in 2008. The schools are distinctly separate student bodies, but are located within one physically consolidated building. The fifth grade is located on the middle school side in the central connecting hallway, to allow the fifth grade to return to the elementary student body - should the school system decide to change grade configuration.
School Configuration Discussion of 2005
At the June 21, 2005 School Board meeting Dr. Ford, school superintendent, presented to the board for discussion whether when a new combined elementary school/middle school is opened it should open as a K-4; 5-8 or a K-5; 6-8 configuration. The issues are:
- Making that decision up front will have implications for actual design and construction of the facility.
- The preferred configuration of staff and community based on past discussions and present practice is K-5, 6-8 but retaining that configuration in the future would require construction of another elementary school (perhaps an additional $13–15 million in construction costs). Construction of the combined facility and either initial or ultimate use of it as a K-4, 5-8, along with changing other elementary schools in the city to K-4 and Thomas Harrison Middle School to 5-8 would utilize the new combined school and existing schools in a way that would not require building an additional elementary school.
- The question that had been previously raised by board members was whether it would be better to do an initial redistricting for the new combined school and keep the K-5; 6-8 configuration as long as possible after it opens, and then when elementary schools become crowded, change to a K-4; 5-8 and redistrict again; or would it be better to make the change to K-4, 5-8 division-wide when the new school opens and thus avoid having to redistrict again. Of course, at any point in the future redistricting might be necessary due to population shifts in the city regardless of grade configuration choices.
School board member Kerri Wilson proposed that the board consider an alternative to the above. Her proposal is to make the four current elementary schools K-3 schools, using Thomas Harrison Middle School as a division-wide 4-5 school. And instead of building a combined school, build a new 6-8 middle school for the city. K-3 students would attend existing elementary schools and the size of each school would eventually be 400-450; 4th and 5th grade students would be educated in a single school facility at Thomas Harrison and the enrollment there would eventually be 850-900; and grades 6 to 8 would at "build out" be in a single school of 1300-1400 students. Each school would, of course, begin with smaller numbers than those listed above since there are about 325 students per grade level currently division-wide. Mrs. Wilson discussed her reasons for her proposal and agreed to send to the board her list of advantages for this configuration.
HCPS elementary schools serve kindergarten through fourth grade.
- W.H. Keister Elementary
- Smithland Elementary School
- Spotswood Elementary
- Stone Spring Elementary
- Waterman Elementary
- Bluestone Elementary
HCPS middle schools serve grades five through eight.
- Thomas Harrison Middle School
- Skyline Middle School
- Elon Rhodes Early Learning Center
- Massanutten Technical Center
- Massanutten Regional Governors School
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Mellott, Jeff (2006-05-24). "Old School's Price Tag: $17 Million Proposals From JMU Go Before Council". Daily News-Record. Archived from the original on 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
- Mellott, Jeff (June 14, 2006). "High School Sale Approved". Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA). Retrieved 2009-07-05.
- Creswell, Kelly (Jun 15, 2006) [Jun 14, 2006]. "Harrisonburg High School Sale". WHSV TV 3. Gray Television, Inc. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
- "Harrisonburg Combined Elementary/Middle School". Moseley Architects. Archived from the original on 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2009-07-05.