And then there were . . . three? The number of Henrico school redistricting options grew by one April 23, when the county’s School Board April 23 directed school system planning officials to devise a third option by combining portions of two existing plans that were created during a six-month period by a 70-member volunteer […]
And then there were . . . three? The number of Henrico school redistricting options grew by one April 23, when the county’s School Board April 23 directed school system planning officials to devise a third option by combining portions of two existing plans that were created during a six-month period by a 70-member volunteer committee.
The decision came after the board heard a formal presentation about the two options from Matt Cropper of Cropper GIS (the consulting firm hired to lead the redistricting committee) and three committee members.
The committee voted earlier this month to recommend Pairing 2 to the board, by virtue of the fact that two of its three subcommittees supported that plan. The overall vote, however, was 20-19 in favor of Pairing 1.
Three Chopt District School Board member Diana Winston expressed concern that either of two plans created by the committee might disturb the sense of community that exists in her district. Since the district has experienced the most growth of any in the county in recent years, many neighborhoods have been redistricted several times and are just now beginning to feel connected with their schools, she said. Shifting some of those neighborhoods again could have a negative impact, she said.
“That’s a strong concern that I have in looking at the Three Chopt District,” Winston said, expressing particular concern that the Sherbrooke neighborhood near Short Pump Elementary could be moved to Gayton Elementary.
Tuckahoe District board member Lisa Marshall also expressed some concern about the possibility of moving some students in the Pemberton Road corridor from Godwin to Freeman High School, but said she had mostly reconciled the need to do so.
Superintendent Fred Morton cautioned board members that it would be impossible for planning officials to create an ideal plan and that combining the positive aspects from Pairing 1 and Pairing 2 would not necessarily work, because the plans have significant differences.
Board members decided to delay by a week an online public feedback period that was to have begun April 24, in order to allow planning officials to create the third option and explain it to the board during an April 30 work session.
Members of the community will have a chance to submit their input on the three options beginning May 1 and continuing through May 18 on the school system’s website.
Brookland District board member Linda McBride made a point to thank the high school committee for “not killing Tucker High School” and working to recommend plans that would give the school a higher student population.
“Tucker will become a school of choice, and if it isn’t now, it should be because it’s a darn fine school,” she said.
A number of groups of parents had expressed frustration during the redistricting process about the possibility that their neighborhoods could be moved into Tucker’s zone. Some complained that the school was too far away, while others felt that it wasn’t up the standards of other county high schools.
“When people begin to talk negatively about our children, they’re wrong, wrong, wrong – and I’m saying it nicely,” Morton said during a pointed comment aimed at those who had criticized Tucker. “You can get a quality education at any of our high schools.”
The School Board will hold three public hearings to receive input about the three plans from citizens: May 12 at Highland Springs High School; May 13 at Godwin High School; and May 14 at Henrico High School. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m. The board is expected to vote May 28 to adopt a redistricting plan.