In a presentation to the Henrico County School Board on Thursday, school division officials recommended that the county begin planning to build an elementary school in the Fairfield District and a middle school expansion before the start of the 2022-23 school year.
While the school system is now developing a comprehensive redistricting plan, replacing J.R. Tucker and Highland Springs high schools and doubling the capacity of Holladay Elementary School, the new elementary school and middle school expansion are needed to address overcrowding and anticipated population growth, according to the school division’s leadership.
The assistant superintendent for operations, Lenny Pritchard, said the level of development growth in Fairfield, particularly at the River Mill subdivision west of U.S. Route 1 and Interstate 295, is beginning to surpass expectations.
“You have to start considering those things,” he said. “These are things we know are going to cause a substantial amount of growth on top of the growth that’s happening now already.”
In a news release Thursday evening, Henrico schools spokesman Andy Jenks said the new elementary school would help alleviate overcrowding at Greenwood and Longdale elementary schools.
School officials said they will need to decide which middle school to expand based on redistricting plans, which are still being developed by a consultant working with a committee appointed by the School Board earlier this year.
In a presentation to the board on Thursday, officials said preliminary data from the beginning of the school year shows that enrollment across the school division surpassed their expectations by about 250 students.
The county’s redistricting committee and Ohio-based consultant Cropper GIS will now need to consider the plans for a new Fairfield district elementary school and the middle school expansion, according to the school system’s news release.
“The current redistricting process, originally slated to be implemented for the 2021-22 school year, may see some boundaries take effect in 2022-23 when the new construction is completed, or be phased in over two years, starting in 2021-22,” Jenks said in the statement.
Pritchard said the school division will also consider the construction of a new elementary school in the far western part of the county, depending on how new school boundaries might affect plans for the previously planned expansion of Jackson Davis Elementary School.
“As redistricting goes through, all of that can change,” he said. “We’re playing at the mercy of numbers now. We’re waiting to see how they pan out.”
Tentative redistricting plans will be presented at community meetings at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School on Nov. 7 and at Mills Godwin High School on Nov. 13. Both meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.