School Board approves combination redistricting plan

Call it an adjustment to an adjustment.

The Henrico County School Board last night adopted boundaries for the new Kaechele Elementary School in Short Pump by creating a compromise plan that implements portions of two existing proposals. The board unanimously approved adoption of the new plan, which generally uses the portion of Option 2 north of West Broad Street and the portion of Option 1 (Adjusted) south of West Broad Street.

The compromise addresses concerns expressed by residents during a public hearing and online survey in the past week, Board Chair Diana Winston said. The plan, which Winston proposed during a work session several hours before the vote, will keep all elementary schools in the county beneath capacity, except for Ridge Elementary. Ridge's boundaries will remain unchanged for now – something that a number of Ridge parents had requested – so that the board can consider other ways to address its needs separately in the future.

The adopted plan will move about 1,300 elementary school students to new schools in the fall, including a projected 425 to Kaechele. In all, the boundaries of 14 elementary schools have been shifted.

Colonial Trail, Davis, Longan and Short Pump elementaries all will receive population relief as part of the redistricting plan. Rising fourth- and fifth-graders at all schools will be permitted to complete elementary school at their current schools if parents provide transportation, while no current middle-school students will be affected by the changes.

The compromise plan "really provides a balance for relief and seems like a no-brainer," Brookland District board member Beverly Cocke said during the work session.

Adoption of the compromise moves a group of students from the Hampshire neighborhood from Rivers Edge Elementary to Shady Grove Elementary but keeps them together at Holman Middle School (which Hampshire students currently attend). The result will cause Holman to be at 101 percent of its capacity next year, while Pocahontas Middle also would be near capacity. Board members discussed a desire to relieve crowding at both schools by creating new course offerings at Short Pump Middle School, which is projected to be at just 73 percent of capacity next year.

Forty-one residents of the Hampshire neighborhood responded to an online survey offered Dec. 10-12 through the school system's website to gauge opinions on Option 1 (Adjusted ) – the most respondents from any neighborhood.

Superintendent Pat Russo told the board that his staff would work to devise possibilities that might pull 200 or more students to Short Pump Middle from other middle schools.

Option 1 (Adjusted) was created earlier this week to address concerns vocalized by citizens at a Dec. 6 public hearing about the redistricting issue. Among other changes, that version recommended moving several pockets of students back into the boundaries of elementary schools that they currently attend.

To view the adopted redistricting map, click here: http://tinyurl.com/br4fbyo
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The Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will meet at 9 a.m. at Echo Lake Park. This small, scenic park offers a variety of habitats and a surprising diversity of native plants on a half-mile trail around the lake. Bring a light lunch for picnicking in the shade and telling flower stories. To register, contact trip leader Leslie Allanson at 795-7191 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Full text

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