Friday, April 12, 2024

City of Williamsburg Holds Presentation, Public Input Session on School Split Study

(WYDaily/Jillian Appel)

WILLIAMSBURG — Members of the Williamsburg community were invited to James Blair Middle School on March 26 to talk with researchers and discuss the results of the Independent School System Feasibility Study in a public input session.

The feasibility study is part of the City of Williamsburg’s efforts to fulfill its initiative to “consider alternatives in the traditional K-12 education model for improved pathways to higher education and certificate programs through coordination with local institutions,” as stated in the City’s 2023-2024 Goals, Initiatives, and Outcomes, according to an information packet handed out to attendees.

After opening remarks from Dr. Jeffery Smith, who conducted the research, attendees were invited to break out into an open-house-style presentation, as well as fill out surveys on their opinions regarding the studies. The open house consisted of four rooms, each with a twenty-minute session to present findings as well as answer questions.

A Student Achievement Indicators of Success presentation was hosted by John Caggiano and Linda Dietz, and showed the study revealed that academic outcomes of City of Williamsburg students are not on par with their James City County counterparts and fall below federal and state standards.

A presentation on Innovative Programming & Partnership Opportunities was given by Donna Woods and Kate Maxlow. This presentation discussed the opportunities that would be available, both if Williamsburg broke off from WJCC Schools, or if it stays.

A presentation on the Potential Independent School Division Base Budget & Staffing was led by Michael Thornton and Laurie-Ann Smith. The research anticipates that increasing its financial investment in city students will be necessary to address student outcomes, whether it operates its own school division or remains in the current joint system. It also predicts an estimated cost of about $18.9 million for a Williamsburg School Division in the first year.

Athletics & Co-curricular was the final presentation, led by Lucas Brown and Beth Mair. This presentation discussed how the division would affect athletics and extracurriculars should the division take place.

The full report, the study team’s presentation, and background information on the city’s decision to commission the study can be found at williamsburgva.gov/feasibilitystudy.

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