The School Board’s decision to close three schools is not simply an issue of consolidating kids into less space. It’s also bundled with the rezoning plans that have been researched and critiqued over the past year or so. Recall that Byrd Park lobbied to have its elementary school zone unified, rather than split between Cary and Clark Springs. The Plan C zoning map that was approved 5-4 by the School Board this past Monday accomplishes that unification and extends it from the Carillon to Oregon Hill and all the neighborhoods in between. The new zoning and school closures will go through two rounds of public hearings before being ratified, but take a look at this map in the meantime:
Rezoning Plan C would make John B. Cary the lone elementary school for the Carillon, Byrd Park, Maymont, Randolph and Oregon Hill – aka – basically the Dream Team of Richmond communities. How cool would it be to have all these neighborhoods’ kids going to school together under one roof? Rather than playing the lottery to build up a school in someone else’s neighborhood and raising their property values instead of ours, we can choose to invest in our own schools and communities. Seems like a novel concept in the City of Richmond, where everyone is out for themselves, ready to jump ship at any moment.
The current zones for John B. Cary and Clark Springs present some problems besides the contorted shapes of their zones. Cary currently has low-enrollment (though high scores and a great reputation) because Museum District parents won’t send their kids there (Plan C zones them for Fox, likely cutting down the number opting for private schools). Clark Springs gets most of its kids from deep in the Northside and few from its surrounding neighborhoods, Randolph, Byrd Park, Maymont, the Fan, and Oregon Hill. If Clark Springs closes, Cary would only receive students from south of Cary Street. The vast majority of those going to Clark Springs today would attend school much closer to their homes, not John B. Cary.
In essence, a quick glance at these two maps should make one thing clear: John B. Cary’s stock is about to go up exponentially. Instead of being half-full and on the chopping block, Cary will serve neighborhoods that are thriving, accessible and reflect the racial and economic diversity of the city. The only question is, will the parents in those neighborhoods invest in their neighborhood school?
The School Board has again decided to revisit the idea of closing schools to make up for budget short-comings. In a back and forth between the Board and City Council and the Mayor’s office, the fate of Richmond’s schools is being being tossed about like a hot-potato. Here’s a quote from the Times-Dispatch:
On a 5-4 vote during a Monday work session, the Richmond School Board agreed to begin a process the prevailing side hopes will lead to the closure of Clark Springs Elementary School, the Adult Career Development Center and the old Norrell Elementary building, which currently houses a pre-school center.
Apparently due to extremely low-enrollment and alleged over-crowding, Clark Springs Elementary is at the top of the list of schools to close. Where those children wind up could significantly impact every school in the surrounding area. The half-empty John B. Cary seems like an obvious destination. Parents (like this community blogger) who are deciding where their children will attend this September are dealing with a great deal more uncertainty with school closures back on the table once again.
The area that this blog serves are split between Clark Springs and Cary elementary schools. How do you feel about this issue? Does closing Clark Springs benefit you? Does it affect which school you will send your kids to? Do you think city residents should be entitled to stability in our list of school options? Does it strike anyone as peculiar that the two main schools being considered here are directly in the path of the expanding VCU campus? Is VCU expansion a good source of funding for the City or something that Richmonders should stand against?
The Byrd Park Garden Club is having it’s second ever backyard garden tour this Sunday from 2pm – 5pm. The idea is to give neighbors a chance to show and tell about their yards and foliage and get to know one another. There are lots of gardens on the tour (see below) and some general ground rules that deserve your attention before you set out to see the sights (also below). In the picture above, this community blogger is giving you a peek at our backyard wisteria’s once-a-year display of purple flower clusters. Maybe we’ll become a stop on the tour once the big-wheels and sandboxes aren’t cramping our style. Looking forward to seeing everyone marching from house to house. Read more