Fredericksburg City Public Schools has established attendance zones for Hugh Mercer and Lafayette elementary schools, which will both serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade this upcoming school year.
Both city elementary schools are becoming K–5 schools for the 2021–22 school year to alleviate overcrowding. Hugh Mercer, which has housed grades K–2, has had close to 1,000 students in recent years and Lafayette had nearly 800 in grades 3–5.
The dividing line for the attendance zones is William Street and State Route 3. Students living in neighborhoods north of William Street, including those in and around Central Park, will attend Hugh Mercer, while those south of William Street, including Idlewild, will attend Lafayette.
“We spent a lot of time on this,” said Matthew Eberhardt, deputy superintendent. “It was very important to us that the zones be balanced and easy to understand. We didn’t want something we couldn’t explain quickly.”
Mike George, chief operations and information officer for the city school division, pointed to Freddy Donuts and Soup and Taco II, two businesses on William Street, as examples families can use to visualize the two attendance zones.
“Freddy Donuts would go to Hugh Mercer and Soup and Taco, across the street, would go to Lafayette,” he said. “Similarly, the University of Mary Washington campus would go to Hugh Mercer and the Battlefield athletic complex [across the street] would go to Lafayette.”
George said Central Office staff have been working with the City of Fredericksburg’s GIS department to create student density, demographic and fiber location maps since 2019, to assist the work of the division’s enrollment, capacity and expansion task force.
The division used this information to create four attendance zones so that it could reduce or increase in-school capacity as needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. George said staff took the four attendance zones and applied them to two K–5 school zones, making adjustments to ensure two equal schools.
“We focused on balance with the number of students, race, special education, language status, simplicity of zone boundaries and future growth,” he said.
George said the division does not yet know where all 2021–22 kindergarten students live, but said that of those who have registered so far, attendance is evenly split between Hugh Mercer and Lafayette.
The new Hugh Mercer will have 687 students and the new Lafayette will have 699, not including kindergarten.
There will be eight homerooms each of grades 1, 2 and 3 at Hugh Mercer and six of grades 4 and 5. Lafayette will have six first-grade homerooms, eight second-grade homerooms, seven homerooms each of third and fourth grades and six fifth-grade homerooms.
All of Fredericksburg’s four voting wards will have students at both schools, George said, so all School Board and City Council members will represent both schools.
The division is planning orientation events for each school in early August.
City Council last month passed a resolution supporting construction of a new school to further ease overcrowding. The School Board has not yet decided if the new school will be an elementary, middle or high school.