Consultants hired to analyze the Richmond County School System’s neighborhood zoning and building usage will announce suggestions for possible consolidations at a meeting Tuesday.
In September, the Board of Education authorized Philadelphia-based Montgomery Education Consultants to begin gathering data on population trends and enrollment.
A focus group consisting of retired educators and community members has met twice to discuss what kinds of roles schools should play in a community and how birth rates and population shifts have affected enrollment.
Using that information, the planners will announce which schools are candidates for closing, merging, consolidating or a number of other scenarios.
The board would then review the suggestions and have another community meeting before developing a five-year, long-range plan of action.
At a meeting Jan. 9, consultant Bill Montgomery said that ideal building use is at 85 percent capacity and that, at 96 to 129 percent capacity, these schools are overcrowded: Bayvale Elementary, Copeland Elementary, John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet, Langford Middle, Lighthouse Care Center, Reynolds Elementary, C.T. Walker Elementary Magnet and Warren Road Elementary.
Craig-Houghton Elementary, T.W. Josey Comprehensive High, Richmond County Technical Career Magnet and Willis Foreman Elementary schools are at less than 60 percent capacity.
Planners are taking into account the educational climate, safety and physical conditions of the schools.
Earlier this month, Montgomery praised the system’s transparency in the process by holding community meetings and sharing information.
At the request of the focus group, the board has posted “rightsizing” information on its Web site, along with criteria collected on the schools, population information and research on how school size affects learning.
At the meeting this month, Montgomery and school officials urged the public to review the information before the presentation Tuesday.
“It is a very emotional issue,” Montgomery said Jan. 9. “Many communities pride themselves at having a school in the community. We know it can be a painful subject.”