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Overbrook parents say school is overcrowded

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There is a massive overcrowding issue at Overbrook Elementary School in Charleston, a group of concerned parents told Kanawha County school board members on Monday.

"There just aren't any more classrooms," said Eugenie Taylor, president of the parent-teacher organization. "We are out of space. This problem has been pushed to the side for too long."

Students at Overbrook are facing long lunch lines and limited playground activities as the school struggles to keep pace with the influx of students, Overbrook parents said.

"On certain days, our children have reported waiting in the lunch line much longer than usual and on early-out days, the kindergarteners have to get back in the lunch line at 9:40 a.m. in order to get everyone fed," said Taylor. 

This year there are 479 students at Overbrook Elementary, according to Taylor.

This isn't the first time Overbrook parents have raised concerns about overcrowding. Last month, Taylor and other parents at neighboring elementary schools like Holz, Kenna and Weberwood said those schools aren't experiencing the same level of overcrowding. 

Taylor said the overcrowding issue is concentrated in the three kindergarten classes, but overcrowding is an issue across the board. Overbrook has four overage classes.

Taylor said the only long-term way to tackle the overcrowding issue is to redistrict students.

"I understand that certain parents from Overbrook and the surrounding schools might be very resistant to the concept of re-drawing the attendance areas," she said. "But just because something is hard doesn't mean it is wrong or should be ignored."

Pete Thaw, president of the Kanawha County school board, admits overcrowding is a "terrible problem." But he doesn't know whether redistricting is the way to go.

"There's always opposition to redistricting," said Thaw. "We're going to discuss a variety of solutions, but I don't think we should throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Elizabeth Pellegrin, president of the parent-teacher organization at Holz Elementary, said she hopes the school system decides on a smart policy change to deal with the problem rather than a Band-Aid solution that could have negative ripple effects on neighboring schools. "We don't want to see short-term patches that weaken our schools," said Pellegrin. "Moving certain programs to other schools and hiring overage teachers is only a temporary solution."


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