Richmond is a growing, mid-sized city in the central part of Virginia. The city and surrounding counties form a metropolitan area of nearly one million people. There are areas to suit every lifestyle, from urban to pastoral farmland, and the surrounding suburbs are some of the most vibrant in the country. Richmond is also blessed with a number of very good school systems. If you are moving to, or within, the Richmond, VA area, it is worth knowing where the best schools are located.
City of Richmond
Richmond is the urban center of the metro area, and that means it has some of the positives and negatives of such areas. The convenience of public transportation and the proximity of work to home and school make Richmond an attractive city in which to live. However, Richmond does have a higher crime rate than the surrounding counties. The schools in Richmond are similarly mixed. The district has 28 elementary schools, 8 middle schools and 8 high schools with a total population of over 22,000 students. More than 90% of the schools met the accreditation requirements based on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs). Richmond Community and the Open High School were both named among the nations best high schools by U.S. News and World Report in 2009. Richmond is also the location of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Governmental and International Studies, a competitive entry high school that draws students from across the metro area.
Chesterfield surrounds the city of Richmond to the south. It is a very large county, and its population spans from the urban areas near Richmond to the rural areas further to the south. Chesterfield County Schools is one of the 100 largest school systems in the country, and the 4th largest in Virginia, with over 58,000 students. The county’s 38 elementary schools, 14 middle schools and 11 high schools run the gamut in quality, with their best schools being among the best in the area. Schools such as Robious Elementary School boast a near 100% passing rate on the SOL exams. James River High School and Clover Hill Elementary School join Robious as recipients of a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award.
Henrico County Public School System is generally considered the flagship school system in central Virginia. Henrico hugs Richmond city mostly to the north, and like Chesterfield, it’s population spans from the urban to the rural. Henrico is a recognized leader in using technology in education, and all middle school and high school students are issued laptops for use in school and at home. According to a recent survey, 94% of the parents of Henrico School children consider their schools to be of an excellent quality. This result is astonishing considering Henrico has over 48,000 students in 45 elementary, 12 middle and 9 high schools. Newsweek ranked 4 of the 9 high schools–Godwin, Freeman, Deep Run and Henrico–as among the best in the country. Henrico has also been listed as one of the best 100 localities for music education for 11 years in a row.
Other County School Systems
As one moves further from Richmond, the school systems become smaller and generally more rural. Hanover, Goochland, and Powhatan are all within easy commute distance to Richmond, and so those looking for a more rural lifestyle with access to the city might want to consider those school systems as well.