The Charlottesville/Albemarle County area has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. This has led to some growing pains for the county schools, in particular, Albemarle High School, and many developers are taking that into account, especially in the popular Rt. 29 North corridor.
As of Sept. 2016, Albemarle High School had a student population of 1,987, which is over its official capacity of 1,819; Monticello High School had 1,142 students enrolled, and Western Albemarle High School had a total enrollment of 1,089.
As of last fall, it was announced that Albemarle could gain two school sites as part of a land rezoning to accommodate a 300-acre development at the corner of U.S. 29 and Polo Grounds Road called Brookhill.
Riverbend Development offered the county a seven-acre elementary school site within the proposed 800- to 1,500-unit development and a 61-acre high school site on the other side of U.S. 29.
Combating overcrowding at AHS
Having the sites gives the division options as it evaluates how to solve a persistent capacity problem in the county’s northern feeder pattern, which includes the dense neighborhoods along Rt. 29, north of the Rivanna River.
In 2006, the county received a proffered school site as part of the future North Pointe development, a 264-acre, 900-unit neighborhood to go in along 29 just north of the Proffit Road intersection.
That site would have required redistricting students from the Forest Lakes and Hollymead neighborhoods, which county officials would like to avoid.
The School Board in November had already rejected a redistricting plan for Albemarle High School and Greer Elementary.
Brookhill School Plan
Documents submitted to the county show the elementary site would occupy a hillside near the middle of the proposed development, just east of the historic Brookhill house. Riverbend does not yet own the land that would become the high school site.
The developer is in the process of purchasing the land for the high school site, which is made up of portions of several existing parcels at the intersection of 29 and Rio Mills Road.
The elementary school site could allow the county to roughly halve the size of a proposed 16-classroom addition to Woodbrook Elementary, Tistadt said.
The full-size Woodbrook addition would allow the school to double its capacity to 600 students at a cost of about $14 million.
The new site would allow the county to consider building an addition only to account for current overcrowding, with the potential of a new school to deal with long-term capacity.
There has been concern about overcrowding at Albemarle High School, with many classes taking place in corridors and hallways.
County documents showed the school is 122 students over capacity this year and is expected to house more than 2,000 students in 2017-18. As mentioned, the building’s capacity is 1,819.