School board and residents discuss redistricting criteria at work session

tjefferson@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg- James City County School Board discussed redistricting criteria during its work session on Tuesday.

The school board is weighing five categories when it comes to redistricting middle schools: utilization, proximity, longevity, socioeconomic status and neighborhood concept.

The board as a whole ranked the five categories in order of importance as utilization, proximity, socioeconomic status, neighborhood concept and longevity.

“If I look at those five I would switch neighborhood concept and longevity,” said Jim Kelly, board member. “I don’t know if we can say for certainty where we can say growth will be, longevity is a guess and not data driven.”

Board member Julie Hummel said her top three categories would be utilization, proximity and socioeconomic status. Hummel said she would round out the top five with neighborhood concept and longevity.

Board member Lisa Ownby agreed with Hummel’s rankings.

Board member James Beers said utilization is the most important category.

Board member Sandra Young said proximity, neighborhood concept, utilization are the most important categories.

During the public comment section, the majority of citizens said redistricting isn’t the solution.

Resident Travis Guse, who is the parent of a student at Jamestown, said problems in the school system won’t be solved only by redistricting.

“I do think there’s some students that if you redistrict it will benefit but I think there are others that it won’t,” Guse said.

Guse asked the board to invest in programs for students outside of redistricting.

Resident LeAnne Quinn and her family relocated to Williamsburg a few months ago, for the school system but was concerned about redistricting.

Quinn said her number one priority is proximity.

“I think every school in the county is a fabulous school but I’m concerned with proximity. If my kid is two miles from a school then they should go to that school,” Quinn said.

“We might be putting the cart before the horse,” resident Andrew Langer said. “We all want all the kids in the county to do well.”

Langer said redistricting will present a logistical nightmare and said rising juniors and seniors would suffer from being taken out of a school where they have formed relationships.

The board anticipates voting on the categories at its next meeting in two weeks.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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