On Thursday, the Alexandria City School Board approved the selection of 35 people for the Redistricting Review Committee who will be the voices of their communities in the process of creating better school attendance boundaries for Alexandria City Public Schools.
The committee will help ensure community involvement in the way the division draws its school boundaries — a process aimed to help solve capacity issues and strengthen the sense of neighborhood schools.
The School Board voted on two representatives from each elementary, middle and high school across the division, along with one high school student and two members of the wider Alexandria community. The Redistricting Review Committee will provide a recommended option or options for new school attendance zones based on community feedback, School Board approved Redistricting Criteria, and guidance from the Redistricting Steering Committee to the School Board in February 2016. Staff will then use the Redistricting Review Committee’s work to submit a final recommendation to the School Board.
ACPS received 115 applications for the positions. Applications were assessed according to the location of the applicant within current school boundaries and previous participation in school activities.
The Redistricting Review Committee will meet for the first time on Monday, October 19 at 5 p.m. and be introduced to the community at the first Redistricting Community Meeting on Thursday, October 22. The Community Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at T.C. Williams High School. All redistricting meetings are open to the public.
“The School Board and Redistricting Steering Committee are thankful for all of the review committee applications we received. We selected a strong and diverse group of community members and look forward to the work ahead. We know that robust community involvement is going to be critical throughout this process,” said Redistricting Steering Committee Chair and School Board member Stephanie Kapsis.
The last time Alexandria City Public Schools changed school boundaries was in 1999. Since then, ACPS enrollment has grown by more than 3,200 students. Student enrollment is projected to rise by as much as three percent every year for the next five years. In addition, considerable numbers of students are currently transferred out of their neighborhood schools because of a lack of space.
The current timeline for redistricting aims to complete the redistricting decision-making process by February 2016. However, the timeline will evolve and change as needed to allow for the best possible engagement process. New school boundaries may be implemented in September 2016 or in time for the start of the following school year, depending on the process.
In shifting the boundary zones for schools, the School Board intends to balance enrollment needs across the entire division and create suitable learning environments in line with specifications in the Long Range Plan developed jointly by the City of Alexandria and ACPS. The goal set out by the School Board is to ensure that all students have equitable access to instructional programs and services, in a cost-effective manner and can attend nearby schools.