On Tuesday, the Redistricting Review Committee recommended that the process of redistricting be extended by three months to tie in with Alexandria City’s budget process and allow for a fuller discussion around programming changes needed to ensure academic excellence.
The committee recommended that the process of creating better school attendance boundaries for Alexandria City Public Schools be extended until late spring 2016 and possibly further, to ensure that the process of altering boundaries is implicitly tied to other criteria including high academic performance.
The late spring timeline also fits better with Alexandria’s budget process as the City does not finalize their budget until May. This will give the Redistricting Review Committee a clearer idea of what parts of the modernization program the City intends to support before they make a recommendation to ACPS staff and the School Board.
The School Board had originally agreed to a tentative timeline that had them voting on a recommendation in February 2016.
“We have always been open to adjusting the timeline for this process if we felt it was necessary. The feedback we are getting is that the community would feel more comfortable if it were extended to late spring. It is important to listen to our community as we head into this process and continue to ensure that they are fully engaged throughout,” said Stephanie Kapsis, Redistricting Steering Group Chair.
Any change in the timeline needs to be approved by the School Board ahead of adoption. It is currently scheduled to go before the School Board on Tuesday, November 23 for a decision. Under the new timeline the School Board would aim to complete the redistricting decision-making process by late spring 2016.
With this new timeline, new school boundaries are likely to be implemented in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year, depending on the outcome of the process. Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley has said that he will put temporary provisions in place to ease capacity issues and relieve pressure particularly on the West End for the 2016-17 school year.
The last time ACPS changed school boundaries was in 1999. Since then, ACPS enrollment has grown by more than 4,200 students. After seeing consistent growth of four percent since 1999 which is already challenging current capacity, the school division needs to plan for an average growth of 3.6 percent over the next five years. Considerable numbers of students are currently transferred out of their neighborhood schools because of a lack of space.
The Redistricting Steering Committee is hosting a Twitter Town Hall from 12 – 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 November. Tweet us your questions @ACPSk12 using the hashtag #BetterBoundaries before or during the chat and the Redistricting Steering Committee will respond.