Norfolk considers proposal to rearrange school district

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Schools is considering proposals that could close some of the district’s schools.

On Wednesday, school board members heard the final report from consultants, who were paid $190,000 by city to figure out some options about how to improve the district’s 46 schools.

WAVY/Walter Hildebrand
WAVY/Walter Hildebrand

The proposal being considered would, among other things, close one of the schools with chronically low test scores, Lafayette-Winona Middle School, which would reopen after one year as a magnet school for grades 3 through 8.

Also under the plan, Willoughby Elementary School would be combined with a new Ocean View Elementary School. The old Campostella Elementary School would still be torn down to make way for the new k-8 school, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And Lake Taylor High School would become a career and technical school.

The proposal would also have the school district choose to close one more middle school and reconfigure grade levels at some elementary schools to focus on early literacy.

10 On Your Side went through the plan, which makes a lot of recommendations that Thomas Calhoun, president of the Norfolk Federation of Teachers, has questions about.

“I don’t see that solving any problem at all, except I guess, the state won’t come take Lafayette Winona cause it’s gone,” he said. “My question is, when are they going to make the decision?”

WAVY/Walter Hildebrand
WAVY/Walter Hildebrand

10 On Your Side asked to speak with Norfolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Samuel King, but spokeswoman Elizabeth Mather told said he was unavailable. Instead, Mather tackled some of our questions via email.

She said the school board asked Dr. King to come back on March 19 with his administration’s recommendations of which of the consultant’s proposals to pursue. After that, they will determine the timeline for moving forward, which will include opportunities for public input.

Calhoun has hope, but little faith in the school board.

“They have not shown the type of leadership I would like,” he said. “They have not shown the decisiveness that I would like to see from a school board.”

To read the consultants entire plan, click here.

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