Henrico County VA
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Board trims redistricting options to two, for now

And then there were two. Probably.

The Henrico County School Board earlier this month eliminated from consideration one of three redistricting options created by a committee of citizens for the new Kaechele Elementary School in Short Pump. The board agreed that Option 3 (Revised Option F) would have too significant a domino effect, shifting too many students at other elementary schools and potentially costing the system Title I funding at Ridge Elementary School.

But the board also directed the school system’s planning staff members to review the two remaining plans and consider tweaking them or creating a hybrid option of those two if possible. The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing to receive more feedback from the community during its Dec. 6 meeting at Hermitage High School, beginning at 6 p.m.

During its Nov. 8 work session, the board heard from its redistricting committee, which met 11 times during a two-month period to create the three options and also presented drafts during two public meetings to receive citizen feedback.

The majority of committee members favored Option 2 (Revised Option E), which would move about 36 percent more students than Option 1 (Revised Option A) among the affected elementary schools but would present the best set of compromises to all involved communities, according to redistricting committee vice chairwoman Alice Ann Howard. That map also would do the best job creating boundaries by major roads and geographical landmarks and would not change middle or high school feeder patterns.

Option 1 would provide the best enrollment balance across all elementary schools affected by the redistricting and would ensure that none of those schools were over capacity through 2016, redistricting committee chairman Bill Panak said. But it also would require a few irregular boundaries and would mean that not every community would receive a preferred option. It also would change feeder patterns for 333 students.

In addition to setting boundaries for Kaechele Elementary, the committee was tasked with providing relief for other nearby schools forecasted to exceed their capacity soon and to provide relief for those at or above 95 percent capacity currently. The committee considered the boundaries of 12 elementary schools when creating its maps.

Several School Board members expressed a desire to use West Broad Street as a dividing line between elementary school zones – ensuring that schools north of the road drew only from communities to the north, while schools to the south drew only from the south. Committee members said they had the same desires but were unable to make them a reality without involving even more schools in the process.

“We ran out of room,” Howard said of the committee’s attempts to use the road as a north-south boundary.

Still, School Board Chairwoman Diana Winston directed planning staff members to take another look and determine if that goal still might be accomplished.

Howard conceded that all three options underutilized Three Chopt Elementary, which is comfortably under capacity. But, she said, moving other students into the school’s zone would have required shifting boundaries of schools beyond the 12 originally under consideration.

Map 3 would have moved 160 low-income students from Ridge Elementary to Pinchbeck, likely threatening Ridge’s designation as a Title I school. Title I is a federal designation that provides extra funding to schools with a certain percentage of low-income students. Ridge would fall below that threshold with the move, while Pinchbeck would not quite reach it even with the addition of those students, Deputy Superintendent Pat Kinlaw said.

Once the board adopts new boundaries, rising fourth- and fifth-graders at any of the affected schools will be able to remain at their current schools if they choose. Students who move to the district to begin fourth or fifth grade, however, must attend the school designated by the new boundaries.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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