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Henrico County Public Schools Address Rezoning In Three New Schools

Committee members review drafts for new Henrico school zones.
Committee members review drafts for new Henrico school zones.

*This story was reported by VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza.

Henrico County Public Schools is beginning a redistricting process to address overcrowding in some schools and the new space in Holladay Elementary, which is currently being expanded, and Highland Springs and Tucker High schools, which are being rebuilt, all to be finished in time for the 2021-2022 school year.

HCPS established a committee in early September made up of 66 volunteers, one to represent each school in the county. Anne Marie Cannon is a member of the committee.

“We’re asked to look at what the county has set forth as far as evening out areas of poverty and keeping communities together,” Cannon says. “Were all being pretty open with each other, giving our contribution and making sure that it’s expressed.”

The committee began drafting options for the new school zones on Sept. 23, but as soon as those first drafts were published online, many parents became concerned.

“I think for me the biggest issue is trying really hard to maintain feeder patterns as best as possible,” says Heather Walker, whose two children attend Greenwood Elementary. “So that a child who lives in a certain community and is invested in that community is invested in that community for as long as possible in their education.”

Walker is one of over 500 people who have signed an online petition asking for different maps to be drawn. All the current drafts would change which middle and high schools her children would go to.

She says she has felt “defeated” following past committee meetings, and she says she has “almost no faith” that her children will remain zoned for their current middle and high schools.

Andy Jenks, Director of Communications and Community Engagement for HCPS, asks parents to remain hopeful. He says the drafts that have been posted online from the committee meetings are not meant to be seen as the school board’s final options.

“Changes are almost certain,” Jenks says. “In fact, nearly guaranteed to happen.”

Jenks says the redistricting process is still in its early stages, but he encourages people to continue sharing their input on the HCPS website and at the public information sessions.

“It’s great that people are reviewing the plans and sharing their feedback,” he says. “That’s exactly how this is supposed to work.”

The first official options for the new school zones will be presented to the public in a gallery walk format on Nov. 7 at Wilder Middle School, and on Nov. 13 at Mills Godwin High School. They will then undergo a second stage of redrafts based on public feedback before going back on display in early 2020.

The school board will vote on the final school zones in May of next year.

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