Parents, students protest Henrico redistricting process

Parents, students march in protest of Henrico redistricting process

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Dozens of Henrico parents and students in the West End marched to Mills E. Godwin High School, protesting parts of the 2021 redistricting process.

Parents in neighborhoods near the high school are frustrated with the two drafts for the high school. They said their children will be sent to other high schools come 2021 even though they live within a mile from Godwin High School.

On Wednesday, nearly 800 people filled the auditorium at Godwin High School to hear what leaders had to say.

Before they came in, dozens marched from their neighborhoods to the schools to show just how much they don’t support part of the counties redistricting plans.

"If it was a Friday evening and you'd be able to hear the band playing at the football game, you'd hear the announcer, you'd hear the crowd cheering when the home team scored a touchdown," said Krista Boyd, of Henrico.

For Boyd and her neighbor Caroline Hutchings, the proximity to Godwin High School is why they moved into the Canterbury neighborhood years ago.

"That way the kids could have the opportunity to walk to school, bike to school,” Hutching said. “I regularly am walking to their elementary school which is about the same distance to Godwin when they get there."

Based on the current drafts for the high school redistricting options, the neighborhood Boyd and Hutchings live in would send their students from Godwin to Douglas S. Freeman High School.

“Our community is really close,” Boyd said. “We’ve gone through elementary school, middle school, to make that change in high school when friendships are so important and those bonds in the community, it’s going to make it really hard on them.”

Steve Glissman also lives a mile away from Godwin, on the northside of the school. His neighborhood under these drafted maps would relocate students to the new J.R. Tucker High School when it opens in 2021.

“If I have a high school one mile from my house I shouldn’t have my other option being five miles from my house,” Glissman said. “I have nothing against Tucker, what I have something against is having a school across the street from me being taken away by an arbitrary line."

It’s why Glissman and many other parents organized marches to Godwin Wednesday night to show committee members how close they live.

“I walk home from school almost every day. It’s about a 20-minute walk and if I got rezoned to Freemon it would be an hour walk for me,” current Godwin Sophomore James Haddad said.

“I think that’s something that’s certainly going to get the committee’s attention tonight, but it’s also important to keep in mind the committee has this countywide lens to apply to the entire process,” said Henrico County Public Schools spokesman Andy Jenks.

The 2021 redistricting process is being done to accommodate development growth across the county as well as the rebuilding of two high schools and expansions of others.

On Oct. 24 HCPS announced proposed adding a new elementary school in the Fairfield District and expanding a middle school as part of its ongoing redistricting efforts.

However, over-crowding is also a major issue school leaders want to address. Based on the 2018 data, eight schools are currently overcrowded, with 12 nearing functional capacity.

“Where we are in this process is that things are draft, they’re options,” Jenks said. “They’re going to change, getting input like this is part of the process.”

“I know the committees have a hard decision but again with our proximity... we really want that taken into consideration,” Boyd said.

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. The survey ends on Nov. 24.

The final redistricting presentation will be made to the school board on April 23, 2020.

The board will make a final vote on May 28, 2020.

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