HERE IS AN EXAMPLE LETTER THAT YOU CAN SUBMIT – THE MORE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WE HAVE FOR WESTWOOD, THE MORE OUR VOICES AS A COMMUNITY WILL BE HEARD BY THE DECISION MAKERS ON THIS TOPIC
Here is the letter our concerns: Even if you don’t have children yet in elementary school, just delete the 2nd sentence. FYI, this does not include concern on how our home values will drop, because county does not factor that into their decisions!
I have reviewed the draft map options for the Henrico County Public Schools 2021 Redistricting Plan. I am a parent of a child in _____ grade, currently attending _____ School. Our current school feeder pattern is Crestview, Tuckahoe, Freeman. We have lived here for ____ years and we have a number of thoughts we would like to share with you.
I strongly oppose High School Option 1 that rezones Crestview from Freeman to Tucker for the following reasons:
Procedural Guidelines and Highway Split: The county promised to look closely at whether or not a highway splits through a school zone. This clearly did not occur with the Tucker rezoning draft option 1. A neighborhood directly north of Tucker High School was removed from the Tucker zone (Longan Elementary zone, which is only 1.3 miles away from Tucker High) and rezoned to a high school close to 5 miles away from them (Glen Allen) simply to allow the Tucker zone to have space for the Crestview Elementary zone. It’s very hard to understand how this helps any parents and students feel that they are part of this process as a human being instead of just a number. According to the procedural guidelines as listed on the Henrico County Public Schools website, “Major roads and natural boundaries will be used whenever feasible to define attendance zones”. I64 and Broad street are major roads which we would have to use or cross in order to get to Tucker (or else drive right by Freeman). The guidelines also state, “Efforts will be made to establish walking schools and reasonable walking zones where feasible”- no one will be able to safely walk or bike to Tucker from our neighborhoods. Meanwhile, there are already a number of students who bike to Freeman from our neighborhood now.
Diversity: Our corridor and neighborhood is a diversity feeder to both Tuckahoe Middle and Freeman High, which strongly and positively benefits both schools and our community. Our neighborhood and immediate surrounding area is very socioeconomically diverse. Crestview families live in houses, apartments ranging in rental prices from under $800 to well over $2000, and a number of families live in homes with extended family members. Crestview serves a large amount of free/reduced lunches (over 50%). Each year, Crestview Elementary holds and International Dinner, and guests attend from all over the county to be a part of this very special event/occasion. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, close to 50% of Crestview students identify as non-white students. If Crestview stopped feeding into Freeman and started feeding into Tucker it would have a major effect on the diversity breakdown at those schools. Freeman High is a great opportunity for our Crestview students who may not have an option to attend a specialty center or another high performing school with a longstanding positive reputation like Freeman High. Removing this option and opportunity does the opposite of leveling the playing field for our students who may not have the same benefits the affluent students of Henrico County Public Schools already have.
Safety: The route to Tucker versus Freeman from the Crestview zone is not at all ideal. To get to Tucker, one must either cross or use major and very busy roads/interstates (Broad Street or I64), or drive down Three Chopt, which means students would drive past Freeman to get to Tucker. Traffic patterns down these roads that are already busy with commuters will be negatively affected, and the county will bear the responsibility of forcing inexperienced drivers (juniors and seniors who drive themselves to school) to commute to school on an interstate or major, busy commuter roads.
Community: Our community is bordered on the North by Broad Street- a major commuter road. Crestview family community and social interactions take place south of Broad- shopping, Tuckahoe YMCA, sports teams and activities, churches, swim clubs, etc. –all of this occurs in the Three Chopt to River Road corridor. Crestview Students are already making lifelong friendships with Tuckahoe Middle School and Freeman High School students. Rezoning our elementary school to Tucker would have a negative impact on our community and its cohesiveness. This option does not take into consideration students staying together from elementary through high school. Due to the proposed size/boundaries of Tucker, a significant % of middle school students will not continue to high school together. Further, this stands to have an even more negative impact on the large amount of ESL students Crestview has had the privilege of serving. Crestview prides itself on its diversity and attention paid to both students with learning disabilities and students who are learning English as a secondary language – expecting these students to attend a high school without the friends they have had through elementary and middle school seems out of touch and certainly not at all kind-hearted.