Redistricting options that could shift more than 550 students to different schools were publicly introduced Thursday at a Henrico County School Board meeting.
The school division is undertaking a two-year redistricting process to alleviate overcrowding at Hungary Creek Middle School and reduce enrollment at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School to accommodate a proposed academy for gifted students that would open in fall 2018.
The school division, along with consulting firm Cropper GIS, presented drafts of potential redistricting plans at Thursday’s meeting.
“Everything is a draft,” said Matthew Cropper, president of Cropper GIS. “We want to give a variety to the public so they can give us feedback.”
The proposed redistricting plans involve Brookland, Fairfield, Holman, Hungary Creek, Moody, Short Pump and Wilder middle schools, as well as a number of elementary and high schools that feed into and out of them.
Two of the three plans would impact between 558 and 594 students. A third proposed plan, called “Option B” in the report, would have affected an estimated 850 students and diverted some students a longer distance. It was voted out of consideration by the School Board.
Among the highlights of the two remaining viable options are:
- Shady Grove Elementary School students and half of Twin Hickory Elementary School students would attend Short Pump Middle School. More Echo Lake Elementary School students and some Glen Allen Elementary School students would attend Holman Middle School.
- Some students who would have attended Wilder Middle School would be sent to Brookland and Moody middle schools. The students sent to Brookland Middle School would attend Hermitage High School.
- Shady Grove Elementary School and half of Twin Hickory Elementary School students would attend Short Pump Middle School. Students at Springfield Park Elementary School and some Longan Elementary School students would attend Holman Middle School. Children who live in a future development called River Mill would attend Brookland Middle School.
- Some students who would normally attend Wilder Middle School would attend Moody and Fairfield Middle Schools.
Hungary Creek currently has 106 more students than it’s designed for, prompting the school to adopt an alternating bell schedule and move students into trailers. The proposed academy at Wilder would bring 300 students from across the division to the school.
The goal is to reduce enrollment at Hungary Creek by 205 students and by 190 students at Wilder.
Most of the rezoning, which will affect only rising sixth graders, will be implemented in fall 2018. But a small part of the redistricting will be implemented in the coming fall and will move between 30 and 50 students who would traditionally attend Hungary Creek to Holman Middle School.
Three Chopt District representative Micky Ogburn expressed the most support for Option C. But she noted that the proposed plans would usher some students who live a short distance from Holman to Short Pump and encouraged Cooper and Tiffany Hinton, the division’s director of Research and Planning, to take that factor into further account.
“If we can pay more attention to proximity of the middle school, that would serve our families a little bit better,” Ogburn said.
As part of redistricting, the division is also studying ways to reduce the concentration of poverty in schools. Of the seven middle schools under study, Wilder has the highest poverty rate at 78.8 percent compared with 5.7 percent at Short Pump, which has the lowest, according to data provided by the school division. Because the gifted academy would draw from students across the district, school officials expect that the redistricting would help reduce poverty at Wilder.
John Montgomery, who represents the Varina District, acknowledged the importance of addressing enrollment at Hungary Creek and Wilder but also advocated for plans that reduce concentrated poverty to the “greatest degree” possible.
“I’m strongly in favor. ... With great fidelity, we do everything we possibly can do, even if it causes some inconveniences in some places or another, but that we take this opportunity to address the poverty concentration to the greatest degree we possibly can,” he said.
Complete information and maps about the redistricting is available at henricoschools.us/redistricting. Families with children who attend schools that may be affected will receive an email Friday with updated information about the process, according to schools spokesman Andy Jenks.