Concerns about school overcrowding and long bus rides were on full display in Henrico County Wednesday night. School leaders held their final public hearing before the redistricting vote next week.
Applause was the preferred method to drive home a message relayed by speakers and etched in a sea of red shirts…"no" to the "blended option" in the Henrico School redistricting plan.
"It's a big deal. Most of us live in the county because we have great schools," said parent Mark Apelt. "To go and mess up our schools - why do we even live here then?"
The blended option is a mix of two plans that were drafted mostly by a 24-member parent committee. The plans were tweaked by school staff to form the blended option. It is a move many parents insist will lead to school overcrowding.
"A classroom that has 30 students and one teacher with a bunch of five-year-olds," said Mark. "That is unimaginable. I have a hard enough time keeping up with just one."
One of the main concerns is the school bus. That blended option has some students riding on the bus more than four miles to get to school.
"I am outraged that they are traveling more than four miles in order to get to a school," said parent Deborah Long.
Many parents brought signs that read, "Keep kids close to home."
We took those concerns to deputy school superintendent Patrick Kinlaw. He says parents should find comfort in one thing.
"We've changed the options each time we've had a community session," said Kinlaw. "So the input does make a difference."
The board is now working on a revised option based on feedback from Wednesday night's meeting. That revision could be ready as early as Monday. The redistricting vote is on Thursday.
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