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4 school rezoning plans are up for final consideration

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 11/8/2019, 6 a.m.
Four school rezoning plans — two of which include proposals for pairing some elementary schools and all of which keep ...

Four school rezoning plans — two of which include proposals for pairing some elementary schools and all of which keep Bellevue Elementary open — are now considered finalists.

The Richmond Public Schools Rezoning Advisory Committee appears poised to recom- mend a final plan to the Richmond School Board when it holds its next public meeting 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at George Wythe High School.

The board expects to approve the final changes to school zones in December to enable notifica- tions and ensure everything is ready for fall 2020 when three new school buildings are to open. The rezoning changes are being made in large part to reflect the opening of those buildings.

The proposals obtained by the Free Press are listed as W, X, Y and Z and were prepared by the school system’s consultant, Cropper GIS, based on comments from the committee and the public.

Plan X includes the most extensive pairing of elementary schools, including Cary and Fox, Carver and Mary Munford and Ginter Park, Holton and Barack Obama. Plan Z calls only for pairing Munford and Cary. Plans W and Y do not include pairing.

Based on the plans, no schools would be closed except for the current Elkhardt-Thompson Middle School, but there would be potential shifts of school districts for thousands of students primarily at the elementary and middle school levels to relieve overcrowding or better balance space.

For example, all four rezoning plans include extensive rezoning of middle schools in South Side to reflect the closure of the current Elkhardt-Thompson on Forest Hill Avenue. It is being replaced by a new, 1,500-student middle school at the site of the former Elkhardt Middle School building on Hull Street Road.

Also, in all four plans, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s zone would no longer extend south of the James River, and there would be small changes to high school boundaries to better align elementary and middle feeder schools.

Plan W offers changes included in the three other plans that are aimed at reducing over-crowding primarily at the elementary level. In South Side, students in the northern part of the zone for Broad Rock Elementary, now far over capacity, are proposed to be shifted to the new 1,000-student Greene Elementary building under construction.

Under the plan, Miles Jones Elementary also would send students from apartment complexes along Carnation Road to Southampton Elementary, while Oak Grove Elementary would send some students to Blackwell Elementary.

In the East End, the only change is that stu- dents from Whitcomb Court would be moved from Fairfield to the new 750-student George Mason Elementary that is to open in 2020.

Plan X would usher in the most change. It includes the same boundary changes in South Side and the East End as Plan W, but calls for pairing Ginter Park, Barack Obama and Holton elementaries, with Ginter Park and Obama serving K-2 students and Holton serving grades 3-5.

Also, Munford and Carver elementaries would be paired, with K-2nd grade students at Carver and 3rd-5th grades attending Munford. That pairing also would gain students living west of Arthur Ashe Boulevard who are now zoned for Fox Elementary.