Henrico Schools releases redistricting plan options at public meeting

Henrico Schools release redistricting plan options

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico County Public Schools has released its possible options for rezoning which residents got to get an up-close look at during the public redistricting meeting at Douglas Wilder Middle School Thursday.

The school division is redrawing elementary, middle and high school attendance zones for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years. Matthew Cropper with Cropper GIS Consulting is the group hired to redraw the maps. Cropper says the maps presented during Thursday’s meeting were still in their draft stages and are subject to change based on the needs of the school and community input.

“They certainly will be modified, if not, other maps drawn as a result of their continued study,” said Cropper. “It’s certainly possible that they may combine maps as well as make new concepts.”

Students entering 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th grades in the year a new boundary takes effect would be able to finish at their current school, but county transportation won’t be provided.

Some parents expressed concern over this noting that they have high school students who may have to go to different high schools under the current draft proposals.

“We’ll have one in 11th and one in 10th and there is a good chance that some 11th graders are going to be grandfathered and the 10th graders aren’t so there’s a good chance that our two kids will be going to two different schools and that makes it challenging on a bunch of levels,” said Adam Cunningham who attended the meeting with his wife Bridget.

“It is a personal thing that’s really important to us,” said Bridget.

Other concerned parents like Arleeta Diggs are worried about how the proposed plans may split up children in their neighborhood.

“The five kids that are on our half of the road will be sent somewhere else and that means everyone else around them will be sent to the school they were already slated for,” said Diggs. “I just sometimes wonder since we are such a small section of the neighborhood whether our concerns will be heard over some of the larger neighborhoods.”

There are certain criteria the redistricting committee says must be taken into account once the plans are finalized which include ensuring efficiencies in bus transportation, establishing walking zones where feasible, ensuring that contiguous geographic zones defined by major roads and natural boundaries are created which minimize division of clearly defined neighborhoods, and ensuring and maintaining judicial and legal guidelines for unitary school systems are enforced. However, Cropper adds that not all criteria can be addressed equally.

“If you focus on only one element of the criteria you start to deviate much farther from others, so you have to focus on all the elements of the criteria and the best plan will be one that addresses those as a whole as best as possible,” said Cropper.

A new elementary school in the Fairfield district and a possible new middle school - at a location that is yet to be determined - will not be on the redistricting maps. The county says those plans aren’t finalized, but even upon completion, the new elementary school wouldn’t require an entirely new district map.

A second meeting will be held next Wednesday at Godwin High School.

Parents are also encouraged to take part in an online survey where they can continue to provide input as the maps continue to be finalized. You can take that survey, HERE.

Parents and residents can view the redistricting plans, HERE.

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