Sixty-three students who currently are in fifth grade at Pointview Elementary School will attend Blendon Middle School or Heritage Middle School instead of Genoa Middle School next year.

Sixty-three students who currently are in fifth grade at Pointview Elementary School will attend Blendon Middle School or Heritage Middle School instead of Genoa Middle School next year.

The Westerville Board of Education unanimously approved a realignment plan for the district's middle schools April 25 aimed at alleviating overcrowding at Genoa Middle School.

The realignment, which was presented by the district as option I during discussions, will affect students currently in the fifth grade who live in Hill and Dales, Huber Village, Westerwood Village, Springboro and Brook Run. Those students will go to Blendon Middle School instead of Genoa Middle School, and students who live in Edmonton Commons, Northland Park Estates, Scotland, Glenview Apartments and Northland Square Apartments will go to Heritage Middle School instead of Genoa.

Students in those neighborhoods who already attend Genoa Middle School will continue to do so.

The change will cost the district more than $56,000 in transportation because more buses will have to be sent into those neighborhoods to get students to multiple middle schools, district facilities and operations services director Jeff LeRose said.

The decision to change attendance boundaries for next year's sixth-graders was meant to save students already attending Genoa from having to switch middle schools.

The other two options presented to the board earlier this month - options F and H - would have saved the district $221 and $442 a year, respectively, LeRose said.

However, administrators chose to recommend that the board approve option I because feedback from the public encouraged the district to include a "grandfather clause" by allowing students currently in a middle school to remain in that middle school.

"That was based on strong community feedback," LeRose said.

In approving option I, board members said that although it carries a high cost compared to the other realignment plans, it is cheaper than other means of dealing with overcrowding at Genoa Middle School.

Adding a modular building, for example, would cost the district approximately $100,000 for two classrooms and would not solve the problem of overcrowding in the school's common areas, board member Denise Pope said.

"We threw out different options on how to handle enrollment issues at Genoa," Pope said. "We started with a much higher number to solve the problem."

Board president Kristi Robbins said the district will not truly know the financial impact of the realignment until after the full-time employees are scheduled for the next school year, which will happen in May.

Robbins said the move could eliminate the need for additional teachers at Genoa.

"The financial impact is yet to be seen until scheduling is done," she said.

However, Assistant Superintendent Mark Hershiser said the district would not look to hire more staff for the next school year.

The additional transportation costs also would only last for two years at most because once next year's seventh- and eighth-graders move on to high school, all students in the affected areas would attend the same schools.

Another reason for recommending option I is that the district was looking for a short-term fix to overcrowding at Genoa Middle School until a long-term solution that may include more extensive realignment could be found, LeRose said. Option I was viewed as an alternative that would work well with future realignment.

Genoa Middle School is 8 percent over capacity this school year. Without realigning attendance boundaries, enrollment would have been over capacity by an even greater amount next school year, district officials said.

The plan would send 13 sets of siblings to different middle schools, Hershiser said, but older siblings would be eligible for open enrollment into the middle school their younger sibling is being sent to.

Open enrollment likely will not be an option at Genoa Middle School because of the overcrowding, he said.