WJCC approves new middle school districts

aheymann@vagazette.com

Williamsburg James City County Public Schools will redistrict middle schools next school year in a way that emphasizes socioeconomic balance among the schools.

The board agreed Tuesday to a map — officially known as option 4 — that spreads Hornsby Middle School’s district further east and pulls students from the immediate area around James Blair Middle School as well as the southern tip of the county to populate the new middle school along Ironbound Road.

The board has worked on-and-off since July 2017 to create redistricting options, gather public input and vote on a new map. The group previously agreed not to redistrict high schools.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of option 4. Board member Lisa Ownby, Powhatan, was the lone vote against option four because she would have preferred an option that focuses more on how space is utilized rather than socioeconomic status, she said.

Some board members said they were swayed to vote for option four because it has a better ratio of students attending the school closest than other options.

“Kids that are literally a sidewalk away from James Blair were not going to James Blair,” said board member Julie Hummel, who represents Williamsburg, of other options.

School Board members chose from as many as six options before choosing a map that prioritizes socioeconomic balance. That means a single school will not be overwhelmingly dominated by a socioeconomic group compared to other schools. Board members said they hope the choice will ensure more balanced state funding for each school.

Another option considered by the board would have prioritized growth, meaning the schools would have grown at roughly equal rates based on population predictions. The board also considered how close each school is to students’ homes and how frequently school facilities may need to be used.

The board received comments from 249 community members through an online survey that was available Jan. 4-14.

Want to attend the next meeting?

The next School Board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at the James City County Complex in Building F on 101 Mounts Bay Road.

Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at aheymann@dailypress.com, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.

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