School Board approves new middle school redistricting map

At the Williamsburg James City County School Board work session on Feb. 6, the board approved of adopting redistricting map option four.

Options two and four were the last two maps being considered by the School Board. The main difference between the two options was four had better socioeconomic balance, while option two had a better longevity outlook.

What ended up swaying some board members to vote for option four was that it had a better overall neighborhood proximity than option two. The main flaw with option two’s proximity was some students who were within walking distance of James Blair Middle School would be going to Berkeley Middle School.

“Kids that are literally a sidewalk away from James Blair not going to James Blair,” said Julie Hummel, Williamsburg.

However, since the space utilization for option four was less favorable than that of option two Lisa Ownby, Powhatan, voted against option four.

The adoption of redistricting map option four was passed in a 6-1 vote, the only no vote from Ownby. This map will go into effect during the 2018-2019 school year.

On top of redistricting changes, next year may also have more course options for middle schoolers. As part of the superintendent's recommended program of studies, seventh graders would be able to take a “world language sampler” class, where they could explore different foreign languages before deciding on which to take in the eighth grade. Eighth graders would be able to take high school level one foreign language, and algebra one.

Also in the recommended program of studies, AP environmental science, principals of biomedical science, human body systems, introduction to engineering design and computer science principles would be available at all high schools. Jeff Carroll, WJCC assistant superintendent for school leadership, said these high school classes would only be available if enough students signed up for them. The minimum amount of students for each class would be 15. However, Carroll added high school principals may use their own discretion when deciding to offer a class if the number of students who sign up does not meet the minimum.

“I will be very surprised if we’re not running one of these courses or more at all three high schools,” Carroll said.

During the discussion of budgets at the work session Olwen Herron, WJCC superintendent announced she would be including a 3 percent raise for teachers in her proposed budget. After receiving input from the board, Herron will reveal her proposed budget for the 2018-2019 school year at the next board meeting.

Want to attend the next meeting?

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

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

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