On Monday, the Alexandria City School Board voted to extend the process of redistricting by three months to tie in with the City of Alexandria’s budget process and allow for a fuller discussion around programming changes needed to ensure academic excellence.
The change in the timeline follows a recommendation by the Redistricting Review Committee last week that the redistricting process should 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 fits better with Alexandria’s budget process, as the City does not finalize its budget until May. This will give both the School Board and Redistricting Review Committee a clearer idea of what parts of the school modernization program the City intends to support before they make a final recommendation. 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. Tonight’s vote shows that we are committed to making this work for the longer term,” said Stephanie Kapsis, Redistricting Steering Committee Chair.
New school boundaries are now 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.