By Todd Peterson, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
The Alexandria City Public Schools redistricting committee’s three redistricting maps currently under consideration directly contradict six of the 10 criteria outlined by the committee itself. The maps do little to address either instructional or enrollment-based capacity issues.
They decrease the number of elementary aged children that can walk to school, thereby increasing the need for transportation. They disregard longstanding school boundaries that are primarily based on proximity to neighborhood schools. Finally, these maps impact a significant amount of ACPS elementary school students.
There is very little, if any, additional instructional or enrollment capacity created by these maps. Of the three maps under consideration, two have 43 percent — six out of 14 — of elementary schools over capacity. The other map has 36 percent — five out of 14 — of the schools at more than 100 percent capacity. This is after redistricting?
None of the options increase the number of students that are able to walk safely to their neighborhood schools. In fact, they all decrease the number of walkers and increase transportation needs.
This is at a time when “Walking Wednesday” is promoted on ACPS’ Twitter account and significant taxpayer resources have been spent on bike lanes and traffic calming projects, like along King Street between T.C. Williams and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Not only does this contradict the redistricting criteria, but it also contradicts the city’s efforts on traffic control and healthy living.
The ultimate decision to go forward with any one of these maps would impact anywhere between 1,300 and 1,600 elementary school students. That is at worst two in every five elementary student and at best one in every 10 students. That is not an insignificant number of children.
The three redistricting maps currently on the table are simply not acceptable.
The Alexandria City School Board approved the redistricting framework in June 2015. But here we are, 17 months into this process.
A significant amount of taxpayer resources have been levied toward hiring special consultants and nine different redistricting maps have been presented to the public. How are we no closer to addressing the system’s own redistricting criteria than we were on June 11, 2015?
We have three maps that do not significantly address capacity issues, decrease the number of children that can walk to school, increase transportation needs, and impact at least one in every 10 children attending ACPS elementary schools.
The steering committee and the school board need to ask themselves if any of the nine maps presented address our community’s needs.