Winterpock Elementary CBG Proposal

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Thank you to the families who joined us recently for a Winterpock community meeting regarding the potential relocation of the center-based gifted program currently located at the school.

As you know, Winterpock Elementary currently is the most overcrowded elementary school in Chesterfield County (137 percent capacity as of last week). Student enrollment grew by 125 students from February 2019 to February 2020 alone. Growth in the area is projected to continue at or above the current rate based on construction underway in the school attendance zone.

In addition, anticipated and hoped for growth in the gifted program (due to a new identification process) has and will continue to increase growth in the number of CBG-identified students. The number of CBG invitations for incoming third graders and fourth graders at the current Winterpock CBG site is projected to increase by nearly 50 additional students at each grade level for the coming year.

There is not room at Winterpock for such growth.

As discussed, we will be transitioning the CBG program at Winterpock Elementary to sites to be determined.

However, the School Board is cognizant of the concerns about moving rising fifth-grade students during their last year at the elementary level (meaning a student during their time in third through sixth grades could have attended as many as four schools). The School Board historically has sought to grandfather rising fifth-grade students when possible. 

Using February 2019 to February 2020 actual enrollment numbers and taking into account variables such as Winterpock-zoned CBG students who could decide to stay in the school’s school-based gifted program next year instead of transitioning, we are now considering grandfathering rising fifth-grade students in the CBG program at Winterpock. This is pending a review of the impact on transportation.

While we would not maximize overcrowding relief as we would have liked and actually would slightly increase our program capacity (currently at 137 percent to a projected 141 percent), such a proposal would provide relief while also taking into account historical practice and those students who would have transitioned between four schools in four years.

Once the impact on transportation is provided, staff will make an amended recommendation to the School Board. The board as a whole will need to take all of the variables – including the costs of retrofitting two trailers and any costs associated with transportation – into account as they consider their position.

CBG TRANSITION FROM WINTERPOCK ELEMENTARY
Questions and answers

Why is the CBG program being targeted for redistricting, when the majority of these students have already experienced an elementary school move? What considerations are given to the CBG students with special needs such as high-functioning autism, and the impact of another school change on them?

As of last week, there are currently 1,320 students attending Winterpock Elementary. The program capacity for the school is 966 students. Winterpock currently has 354 more students than it is programmatically able to hold, and is operating at 136 percent capacity.

Per Policy Regulation 4030-R, students in Chesterfield County are expected to attend the school that serves the geographic area in which they reside. To the extent possible, we create neighborhood schools so that students can attend school with the children/friends they live near.

Per Policy 7240, in circumstances of overcrowding, the Superintendent will provide the School Board with options for alleviating the condition. There are eight options that must be considered. In the case of overcrowding at Winterpock, none of the other options are viable other than the relocation of special programs. Center-based gifted is a special program. We look at all special programs when alleviating overcrowding, to include movement of special programs that serve special needs students from multiple home schools.

This proposal is aligned with School Board policy.

What other options have been considered for alleviating overcrowding?

We are following School Board policy with this recommendation. That policy, No. 7240, calls for us to consider the following:

  • Use portable classrooms or alternative space on a temporary basis to alleviate short-term overcrowding (DONE)
  • Identify the location of special programs and determine whether relocation of any or all of these programs can provide sufficient relief (DOING)
  • Expand online learning opportunities (NOT AN OPTION)
  • Implement alternative school schedules or calendars. (NOT AN OPTION)
  • Offer dual enrollment through classes taken on college campuses (NOT AN OPTION)

When would this transition of CBG sites occur?

During the 2020-21 school year.

What prevented the CCPS leadership from addressing this during last year’s redistricting to minimize the disruption to students?

Policy 7240 requires that action must be taken by the School Board. It was not last year.

Student enrollment growth during this school year is 25 percent more than it was from 2018-19 to 2019-20 with additional growth projected prior to the new elementary school to be built in the Magnolia Green area, furthering the need for change in advance of the 2020-21 school year.

Will the CBG program return to Winterpock after the new elementary school is built?

This has not been determined yet; however, based on expected growth we would not anticipate that this would happen.

If one of the options proposed is a must, what will be the deciding factor (what have they identified as priorities in this decision)?

We will need to implement one of the options, given the lack of space at Winterpock and continued growth in the area. Factors for the options included: Distance to current schools and whether a school has capacity to receive additional students.

If any of the four plans are enacted, what will be the process for informing families about the decision? Specifically, when will families be notified, will the Central Office coordinate the communication or provide support to the administration at Winterpock to address parent questions? Since many families will need to change aftercare and bus pickups, when will families be notified about possible bus routes?

Upon action by the school board to adopt a presented option to relieve Winterpock overcrowding, families will be notified in a timely fashion of the decision and the impact it will have on their child. The letter will contain the new CBG site and an opportunity to tour the school, meet the administration, etc. We expect that bus routes will be released in August, as is normal practice.

Has any consideration been given to moving the CBG program to Alberta Smith rather than to multiple sites? Based on the estimates provided, this option would result in only 50 kids over capacity while keeping the program intact.

We are trying to not transfer the overcrowding issue from one school to another. We are also trying to be more mindful of travel distances.

The numbers provided at the public meeting did not include an increased number of students expected to be invited based on the new gifted identification process. We expect that 40-50 new students could be invited per each grade level.

What does CCPS envision the CBG program looking like in the future? Not only next year, but also three to five years out. What are the priorities in this vision?

Our CBG vision currently and next year continues to be as stated in our 2020-21 Program of Studies posted online. Any significant changes in areas like the instructional methods or strategies of gifted education would require board approval under Policy 3020.

Regarding three to five years out, our vision for CBG would continue to align with the goals of our entire strategic plan, Imagine Tomorrow. This plan presents the vision for CCPS through the year 2025. Of course, as part of offering amazing learning experiences in incredible learning environments, we strive to keep bus rides as short as possible and provide instructional services that meet the needs of each student within or as close as possible to their neighborhood schools. These goals can be met through CBG expansion.

At present, Winterpock serves as a CBG Academy. Separating the current center-based program into three small programs, some with only one class per grade level is a significant shift from the model. What steps will CCPS take to maintain model fidelity? Specifically, how will peer learning and interactions be encouraged amongst teachers?

Multiple classes per grade level is not an integral part of the CBG Academy model, but rather a circumstance that has risen as Chesterfield County has grown over time and as the new identification process better identifies gifted learners. For example, other sites have had only one class at a grade level in the past, including Winterpock.

Program guidelines are currently being refined and serve as an outline/handbook for CBG sites across the division so that the program is consistent across the county. Just as teachers and staff were supported in the most recent expansion to Swift Creek Middle, teachers and staff at new sites will also be supported as the program shifts to new schools. Also, just as new and existing teachers in existing CBG sites are supported across the division, teachers at new sites will naturally be integrated into this support.

The Office of Gifted Education has provided multiple ways to support peer learning and interactions with existing CBG teachers and will continue to do so. This takes various forms, including CBG team meetings and professional learning experiences during and after the school day. One such recent opportunity was the recent trip to Old Donation School in Virginia Beach where teachers witnessed instruction and had conversations with teachers there. They then worked to collaborate on units to be used across CBG sites.

How will the Gifted Office support providing coordination across multiple sites?

The collaboration is two-fold. Within the Office of Gifted Education, elementary and middle school support specialists that serve our CBG sites collaborate to ensure vertical alignment. They also attend the CBG team meetings across elementary and middle schools to gain that perspective. This, along with program guidelines and support for administrators helps support this coordination.

Are there plans to adjust the school start times at any of the proposed sites?

The efficiency of bus routes and start times are constant points of consideration. The answer to this question is yet to be determined.

Since a team teaching approach is used in the fourth and fifth grades, how will this model be continued at the new learning sites, particularly since this approach supports the transition to middle school by mimicking class changes?

This feature is utilized throughout the division differently between schools and between CBG sites.

When will the existing Winterpock CBG teachers need to decide which sites they will choose?

Our Human Resources Department will work with CBG teachers on placements and site selection as they have previously when programs shift locations.

Given the need for additional CBG teachers, what is CCPS’s plan to recruit gifted-endorsed teachers? How many classes does CCPS anticipate being taught by instructors that do not have a gifted endorsement?

We currently have endorsement cohorts through UR and VSU, and we do have existing teachers in the division with their gifted endorsement that are not currently teaching CBG. While each option estimates different numbers of additional teachers needed, beyond the number at Winterpock, we have every belief that we will be able to provide the staffing needed for each option.

Since students at Winterpock, especially the 4th graders, have established a peer group, what consideration has CCPS given to maintaining peer cohorts to middle school? Will students be placed in CBG programs that filter to the same middle school?

Across CCPS, feeder patterns for all of our students do not ensure peer groups remain intact from elementary to middle school. Currently, a student’s home school determines the assigned CBG middle school site.

How will world language instruction be continued across multiple CBG sites?

World Language instruction currently is conducted across the four elementary school sites, and the offering will be included at new sites as well.

What are projections for incoming third graders? When will the final numbers for incoming third graders be determined?

We expect by the end of March to have these numbers. We are waiting on creativity assessment scores from the scoring service.

What steps has the CCPS taken to get public input on the CBG plans?

The proposal was first put forward at the Board’s last work session. This meeting is to gain input. A final decision is expected next month. We understand this is a fast timeline. However, our options are limited and we wanted to give parents time to plan.

Has there been discussion to keep CBG students in the far western reaches of the county in their home schools with CBG curriculum vs a 36-49 minute bus ride?

As student numbers and space allow, we would like to grow in this direction in the future.

What is the feasibility of school-based CBG at every school? Why can’t each school get their own in house CBG program like Henrico does? With the newly enacted standards, more students are qualifying for gifted services. Is there a long-term plan for this?

As student numbers and space allow, we would like to grow in this direction in the future.

If parents decide not to send their students to the newly designated CBG sites and choose to return to our home school instead next year, what amount of teaching will be a repeat? Does the county have any projections on how many families may choose this option?

The CBG experience is different from the SBG experience, but the content covered in each will be similar. Teachers will be expected to differentiate based upon the needs of the students.

We have planned for students to return in our calculations.

What process will families need to take to exercise their option to return to their homeschool rather than continue to receive center-based gifted service?

An Intent to Return form will be sent out to rising fourth and fifth graders after an option is determined.

Can students children who opt out for fifth grade CBG opt back in for middle school without retesting? If they re-enter for sixth grade will they be too far behind their classmates?

Students opting out for fifth grade who would like to return for middle school need to be submitted for review by the fifth-grade deadline. Additional areas of strength may be explored, but they will not need to be retested. They need to be added to the pool at the time of selection so that proper scheduling takes place.

How are the proposed changes reflected in the proposed 2021 Budget?

The changes that are required for each option do not have a significant impact on the budget. Adjustments to bus routes and shifts in staffing numbers are predictable and accounted for annually in a budget for a district this size.

Can my fourth grader finish out Center Based CBG at Winterpock if it is moved? 

Staff continues to review this option. However, it is important to recognize that any students grandfathered in takes us further away from maximizing the overcrowding issue and bringing this elementary school capacity relief.

Could this change be phased in, instead of all or nothing? Bring in new third graders to the other location, while allowing the current third and fourth graders to finish up to fifth grade at Winterpock. 

We continue to review the building-use impact if rising fifth-grade students are grandfathered to attend Winterpock Elementary during 2020-21. Existing educational space will not accommodate continuing with the current number of CBG students, adding additional CBG students based on new identifications and additional student enrollment growth predicted from within the current attendance zone.

Has anyone considered in these assumptions that a significant number of kids may not choose to stay in the CBG program but rather opt to return to their home school that they are already familiar with (including those with the home school of Winterpock)? Many would prefer this to switching to a very early schedule, having longer bus rides to schools that are farther away, or having their child have to switch to a school they are not familiar with for a second year in a row (or even to their fourth school in four years as is the case of my son even though we haven’t moved at all!). In particular, if the majority of the kids at Winterpock decide to stay there in their home school then that is would be about one class per grade that would not be moving and therefore not contribute to the relief at Winterpock. The situation is the same for Woolridge, which appears to have the same number of CBG students as Winterpock now, and potentially could add more during this year’s testing. It seems as if it would make sense to have CBG programs at Winterpock and Woolridge as there are enough children in those home schools to form full classes and achieve the least disruption for kids at those schools. Specifically what years are being forecasted for new shifts in the location of CBG schools so parents can factor that into their decision making in the future? 

As we built a potential solution involving grandfathering incoming fifth-grade students, we looked at many variables understanding that many Winterpock-zoned students in the CBG program are likely to remain at the school. This reduces the opportunity to maximize efforts to alleviate overcrowding.

We are looking for long-term solutions.

Why is one of the options to send the kids to schools outside of current feeder school zone?

Potential receiving sites were identified based on space available to accept the program.

Is there an option to move Winterpock third grade CBG as a whole? They just switched schools this year and have made new friends. I believe if they all moved together to a new location it would be an easier transition. 

The options that were proposed as alternative sites took into consideration space available at the receiving schools.

Will the program be negatively affected in any way once the new budget is approved? Will each center based gifted school continue to receive all the current services offered at Winterpock?

CCPS remains committed to offering the resources to school principals so that the same services can be provided to our gifted learners across CBG sites.

Spring Run may have enough space to add Mega Trailers for the entire CBG, until a long-term, workable, sustainable plan can be formulated, providing reasonable proximity for all CBG students at Winterpock or their home school if not Winterpock. Has this been evaluated?

Before establishing any new trailers, we will utilize the currently available space at our elementary schools.

Disabled parents need a voice. As a parent who does not drive, if a child from the Winterpock/Spring Run/Clover Hill area ends up at Chalkley, Gordon, or Gates, what plans do you have to provide transportation should the child become ill/hurt and need to be taken home? This will be necessary on a case-by-case basis. A child should not be required to abandon CBG due to proximity, nor the disabilities of their parents. 

This could be an issue for any family — if they do not drive, if they work more than an hour away, etc. Families are always encouraged to have backup plans when it comes to inclement weather, sick children, etc.

What is the confidence level for each current option by the CCPS transportation department to be prepared for all logistics for a smooth transition? 

Our Transportation director spoke briefly at the community meeting. His team has run the routes using their software system as specifically as possible for each child and each address currently in the program. This is the most exact, real information regarding bus ride length we can provide. Students who are newly identified in CCPS or who move into CCPS and are identified gifted could be added to a bus route and ride times could change.

I would like options to be looked at that will improve differentiated at the home school level. Gifted resource teachers for support in each school would be a good step. These teachers could help make sure that differentiation is provided and can work with teachers in all grade levels who have our gifted students. It seems to be an equity issue when a child cannot attend CBG because they cannot arrange after school care when they have two children with different school times in two different elementary schools.

We agree that students should be able to receive the caliber of differentiated instruction to meet their needs in their home schools.  Most immediately, with our English Language Learners (ELLs) and at the middle school CBG level we are moving in this direction.

What pull does the school board have against the county and its out of control housing developments?

The school division is asked for input regarding potential student growth, and provides projected student enrollment numbers based on the individual case. So the county does know our position (based on data) as to how planned construction could impact student enrollment growth at specific schools.

If rising fifth-grade students are grandfathered, would they be provided transportation?

Yes.

While it is not common for the school division to offer transportation in cases of grandfathering associated with redistricting, we are in this case grandfathering a grade level of a program that would not be offered elsewhere and not grandfathering a redistricting move for which there is not a corresponding program.


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