NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — Parents of students who attend Norfolk Public Schools had a chance to take a glimpse into the future Monday night.
The meeting was the first of two community dialogue meetings this week, where the school district laid out what kind of changes could soon be taking place.
“There is a lot of change that can happen, and we want to make sure they have the opportunity to come and ask us,” said consultant Tracy Richter, of Cooperative Strategies.
Richter has been working with Norfolk Public Schools for the past six years, and one of the main things on the list is consolidation.
“Norfolk has been in decline in enrollment for the past several years, a lot of that is actually due to lower birth rates that we saw from the recession from 2008 to 2013,” said Richter.
Richter said consolidation shouldn't be looked at as a negative.
“Part of consolidation is, can we build new schools in the right spaces where kids are, and where they are going to be,” said Richter.
Some parents were concerned families could lose the neighborhood schools they’ve grown to love. The school board said that’s not going to happen.
“It is very important for families to be able to purchase a home in an area that they know there is a very credible and resourceful school,” said Noelle Gabriel, Chair of the Norfolk School Board.
Another big issue is school start times, which could be pushed way back for high school students.
“We have high school students that get on the bus at 5:45 in the morning, this would mean no student would have to get on the bus before 7 a.m. anymore,” said Richter.
Dana Watson’s daughter, Nikiya, is one of those high school students that, in her opinion, goes to school way too early.
“And it is still dark outside so there are some safety concerns,” said Watson.
While Nikiya is also worried about simple building maintenance. According to Richter, it would cost the district $491 million dollars to fix everything needed in all 44 buildings.
“Well my desk, where my desk is, there is like tile and roofing missing, and it’s like leaking, and it’s a real distraction from my learning like water falling on my paper and stuff,” said Nikya.
There will be another community dialogue meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Richard Bowling Elementary, 2700 East Princess Anne Road, Norfolk.
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