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Midway parents upset over campus quandary
School crowded, but no quick fixes in sight
Midway Elementary students gather in a packed lunchroom this winter. Parents have raised concerns about crowding at the school. - photo by FCN file photo

Melissa Grohovac has volunteered at Midway Elementary School since 2006, serving on the PTA board and helping coordinate the Watchdog DADs group.

But when Grohovac spoke to the Forsyth County Board of Education on Thursday night, it was in her capacity as a mom. The overcrowding at Midway, she said, is “affecting the climate of our school.”

With chaotic lunch periods, crowded carpool lanes and 11 trailers on the campus, Grohovac is concerned Midway can “no longer provide the highest standards of learning.”

“Our science lab is now in a trailer,” she said. “How can you teach science in a trailer with no sink?”

Supported by a nearly packed boardroom of Midway parents, Grohovac was one of a handful of speakers from the school who addressed officials during the meeting.

The parents talked about safety concerns, program cuts, availability of technology, lower achievement based on class size and the nutritional conflicts, with some students eating lunch before 11 a.m.

Darla Light, who chairs the school board, said she admired the parents’ passion for their children.

“It does my heart good to know you care as much as you do,” she said.

Light explained that the Midway campus is landlocked. While another elementary school planned for the area would provide relief, the system doesn’t have the money — an estimated $17 million — to build it.

The system, according to Light, is in the process of applying to the state for assistance.

“It just exploded and it was not in the plan that it was going to explode like that,” she said of the population growth around the school. “We do hear you and we know that there are a lot of challenges ... we’re trying to find solutions.”

Bill McKnight, the system's facilities director, said state funding toward a new school wouldn’t entirely solve the problem.

“The state would pay $7 or $8 million, so we’d have to pay the remainder,” he said.

With about $7 million in capital funds, the system would still fall short of the estimated construction costs.

Another potential remedy, redistricting, appears to be a ways off. After the meeting, system spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said officials “have been talking about possible redistricting for August 2014.”

“It’s not our intent to redistrict at the high school level, but we could do possible redistricting at the middle and elementary level,” she said, adding it likely would be August or September before more information became available.

In the meantime, Caracciolo said officials are “working on something that we will share at the [board’s] May work session. That will be a solution that will go into effect this August to address the overcrowding at Midway.”

According to district records, the school had an enrollment of 914 students as of last month. That figure is 277 students over the school’s capacity of 637.

Susie Hale, another concerned parent, said no other elementary school in the area has experienced Midway’s level of crowding. She described the situation as “demobilizing.”

“It’s frustrating, it’s confusing, it’s distracting and it’s chaotic,” she said.

The school has 11 trailers with another three slated for next year, according to McKnight.

Parent Dana Jennings, who also addressed the board Thursday, said after the meeting that she appreciated the response from Light.

Still, she noted, the school board “has been aware of the overcrowding at Midway for some time. As I always tell my children, actions speak louder than words. I look forward to hearing the board’s recommendation for the upcoming school year.”