Cameron William | Staff Writer
Change is coming to area schools whether parents and students like it or not. In what seems like a recent trend, several local schools have decided to merge student bodies or restructure some of their programs. On Monday, Oct. 29, Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) parents and students found out that Poplar Halls and Fairlawn Elementary schools will be shut down. NPS also plans on converting Lake Taylor Middle School to a K-8 building, which would add to the three K-8 campuses already established.
According to an Oct. 10 WAVY News story, parents and community members disagree with NPS’s decisions. However, NPS says that K-8 schools not only make it easier for students to transition from elementary to middle school, this move would also help teachers with student development because they can track them from grade to grade.
Hampton Public Schools has also recently revised two of its specialty programs; this decision was made after a decrease in student enrollment. According to an article published on April 4 in the Daily Press, the merger of the Performance Learning Center with the eLearning Center was necessary to benefit the students who would participate in the program during the 2018 – 2019 school year.
While restructuring programs is not a new concept, especially in school districts that are troubled with a reduced student population and financial issues, the current need to streamline programs is evidence that more changes may occur in the near future.
NPS believes that its changes will be an advantage for its students and cites a study that explains how K-8 students perform better than other children in public schools. According to WAVY News, NPS also announced that it would require about $17 million to provide much-needed renovations for its schools. District officials have stated that the school system does not currently have the funding needed for these renovations.
Hampton University students have mixed opinions about the school consolidation. Jordan Collins is concerned that a merger will create overcrowding “Because the school is K-8, it could quickly become over populated,” said Collins, a sophomore at Hampton University.
Carson Hedgepeth, annother HU sophomore, says, “It’s a good thing because instead of having to put money into two schools, it would be going towards one which would save money.”
The main problems that NPS parents have with the consolidation of the schools is the age difference between the children in the schools. But NPS has pointed out that Catholic schools have used the K-8 school structure for years and have had no problems. School officials have also announced that they are listening to suggestions from the community and that they are still reviewing options.
The restructuring and merging of schools and school programs will be changes that Hampton University students should keep an eye on—especially those in the School of Liberal Arts and Education. Finding jobs in a public school system can be difficult, so it will help to know what these school systems are planning for the future.