Parents and community members speak out at a public meeting on the Norfolk Schools Consolidation Plan

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NORFOLK, Va. – For Timie Watkins, Lindenwood Elementary School in Norfolk is a special place.

“I had teachers there that I liked,” Watkins said. “It’s a house.”

She and her children who attend the school, many say, are rich in history.

Lindenwood parent Lionel Nunn said the campus was convenient for his daughter to attend kindergarten.

“It’s a very good school for my daughter. She’s learning a lot,” Nunn told News 3. “It’s literally walking distance.

But maybe Nunn’s daughter will go to another school next year.

On Wednesday, Norfolk Public Schools held a public hearing on their facilities master plan involving schools across the district.

The district’s consulting partners, Cooperative Strategies, cited concerns such as poor conditions and a declining environment for the recommended consolidations.

“We have the highest underutilization; we have undersized schools; we have high leave rates for withdrawing parents. Something has to give,” Cooperative Strategies partner David Sturtz said at Wednesday’s town hall meeting.

The plan would involve Lindenwood’s current students being relocated to Taylor Elementary School and Willard Elementary School this fall.

Seventy-six students from K-5 Lindenwood would be consolidated into Taylor Elementary School, while 245 K-5 Lindenwood students would be relocated to Willard Elementary School.

READ: Norfolk residents talk about plan involving consolidation of NPS schools

Meanwhile, the Lindenwood facility would be repurposed for Madison’s Secondary Alternative Education Program.

Another school, Tidewater Park Elementary School, would close in the summer of 2023. Students would be rezoned to Ruffner Academy, which would convert to a 3-8 program for the 2023-2024 school year.

People like John “JP” Paige have expressed their thoughts on Lindenwood Elementary School being part of the plan.

“How many losses must our communities suffer before we unite? Not just us, but you with us,” Paige said. “You talk about taking a community school out of a community.”

“There are a lot of people out there who want their kids to go to the neighborhood school,” Watkins said at the meeting.

Those like Nunn and Darnehsa Robinson are open to having their children attend different schools.

“Merge students where they come from with another neighborhood so they can have different kinds of cultures around them [and] so they can get a better education,” Robinson.

As for Watkins, she wants Lindenwood students to stay close to home.

“I just know it’s going to be longer for the kids to get home. A lot of parents walk their kids to school,” Watkins said. “They feel safe with their children closer to them.”

According to the plan, next steps include a March 16 board vote for schools including Lindenwood, Madison and Easton Preschool.

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