WILLIAMSBURG — The City of Williamsburg announced Thursday that the city council voted unanimously to accept a proposal from longtime Hampton Roads educator Jeffery Smith to lead its ongoing study on the feasibility of operating its own independent school district.
According to the city, Smith has selected a team of educators to oversee particular topics for the study:
• John A. Caggiano, Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment of Hampton City Schools
• Kate Wolfe Maxlow, Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment of Hampton City Schools
• Jennifer Parish, Executive Director of Peake Childhood Center
• Lorianne S. Smith, Compensation and Benefits Coordinator of Newport News Public Schools
• Michael Thornton, Superintendent of Surry Public Schools (Retired)
• Donna Woods, Executive Leadership and Implementation Coach
“I look forward to working with the City of Williamsburg to continue its ongoing study, and I am excited that such a talented group of educators have agreed to serve on this team,” Smith said. “Our careers have been dedicated to public education, and I hope the lessons we’ve learned, and successes we’ve witnessed, will be of benefit to this process. The mission is straightforward: Ensure the best possible educational experience for students, parents, and teachers in Williamsburg. On behalf of this dedicated study team, we are excited to be a part of that work.”
Smith retired as Superintendent of Schools in the City of Hampton City on July 1 of this year, concluding a 32-year career in public education. Smith started his career as a teacher and shifted to administration, at one point serving as Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools and eventually serving as Superintendent of Schools in West Point, Virginia, before assuming the same post in Hampton in 2015.
In Hampton he took over a school division that had only 12 of its 31 schools fully accredited by the state when he arrived and achieved full accreditation of every school in just four years. The school division also saw its on-time graduation rate rise from 88.3% to 97.64%.
“Dr. Jeffery Smith is one of the most well-known and respected individuals in Virginia public education, and nationally,” Mayor Douglas Pons said. “We are honored that he was willing to bring his expertise to the important work underway here. Our focus is on ensuring the best possible education system for Williamsburg students, parents, teachers, and residents. We do not know what final conclusions this study will reach, but we do know all decisions will be made with those stakeholders first in mind, and only after an extensive period reserved for public input and feedback. We look forward to working with Dr. Smith in the months ahead.”
The city announced the feasibility study earlier this summer, saying at the time it had an obligation to periodically evaluate the best possible educational opportunities and outcomes for its students and how to achieve that in the most fiscally responsible manner for taxpayers.
Days after announcing the study, James City County’s Board of Supervisors elected to preemptively terminate the Contract for the Joint Operations between James City County and the City of Williamsburg, however, this week it pushed back making a final decision until the spring.
According to the city, results from the feasibility study are anticipated by early January, with more information regarding the public feedback and input process to be released shortly thereafter. No changes to the existing joint school system will take place prior to the 2025-26 school year.
More information regarding the study can be found at williamsburgva.gov/feasibilitystudy.