School board prepares to hire consultant for redistricting

Redistricting dominated the conversation at Tuesday evening’s Williamsburg-James City County School Board meeting.

The board decided at the start of redistricting discussions in April to hire a consultant to do the work of redrawing attendance zones ahead of James Blair Middle School opening in April 2018.

The goal Tuesday night was to inform school officials about what they need to include in the division’s request from those consulting firms. The board members agreed they wanted the consultants to guide them on which criteria to use in the process — options include a focus on balancing capacity of schools, keeping neighborhoods together and creating feeder patterns at all three levels.

“We need our education on redistricting first before we continue,” Holly Taylor (JCC Stonehouse) said.

The board allocated $150,000 in the fiscal year 2018 budget approved by the board in March to hire a consultant for the work. They have to approve a final budget by May 16 and are looking at a $750,000 gap between expected revenue and planned expenditures.  

Chairwoman Kyra Cook said she’d like the consultants to explore drawing new maps for all three levels because of capacity issues, but the majority of the board decided to keep it to only middle and high school zones.

“It’s full, it is just full. (Schools) are using just about every space,” Cook said. “We needed a new elementary school yesterday and we need new high school additions tomorrow.”

Superintendent Olwen Herron said the request for proposal, which consulting firms will bid on, could be posted within 10 days. Redistricting won’t show back up on the agenda until those bids are in, which could be late June or July.  

The board also discussed the 2017-18 student code of conduct, which includes a section on bus and bus stop expectations. The code lays out rules for students at the bus stop and while on the bus. The board will vote to approve a final version of the code at their next meeting May 16.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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