Fountain Green Heights parents still unhappy with Harford County Public Schools elementary redistricting plan after last night’s school board meeting

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There are just a few weeks left before the Harford County Public Schools must have its elementary redistricting plan in place, but that hasn’t stopped concerned parents from keeping a close eye on the district’s every move affecting where their children will attend school next year.

Fountain Green Heights parent Laura Barnaba didn’t like what she heard at last night’s meeting where the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) presented its lastest plan to balance elementary school enrollment to the Board of Education. The board is scheduled to make a final decision on the plan at its Feb. 28 meeting. No public comment was accepted at last night’s meeting, so Barnaba quickly put her counter-arguments in the letter posted below.

One final public hearing is scheduled Feb. 14 on the redistricting plan that will create an enrollment area to fill the new Red Pump Elementary School and redistribute students countywide.

The alternate plans presented to the district have been listed on the district’s website along with STAC’s rationale for accepting or rejecting them. Click here to see those plans:http://www.hcps.org/publicinformation/redistricting/SUBMITTED_PROPOSAL_REVIEW_MATRIX.pdf.

The district is still accepting comments on its plan that can be emailed to elementaryredistricting@hcps.org.

Here are the dates and times for the remaining redistricting meetings:

Monday, February 14, 2011 – A.A. Roberty Building Board Room – Final Public Hearing – 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Monday, February 28, 2011 – A.A. Roberty Building Board Room – Board Decision on Elementary Redistricting Plan – 6:30 p.m.

Click here to read a previous BANV post on the Fountain Green Heights proposal: http://www.belairnewsandviews.com/2011/01/time-is-getting-tight-for-parents-looking-to-submit-changes-to-the-harford-county-public-schools-elementary-redistricting-plan.html

To whom it may concern:

My name is Laura Barnaba and I am again writing to you on behalf of the citizens of the “Fountain Green Heights” community.  I attended last nights presentation at Bel Air High School and was very disappointed to see that our community is still being split up and a section of it is being sent to PMES.  Again, I would like to say that I understand this entire process is a huge undertaking with many different variables to consider.  However, I need to point out some discrepancies I noticed concerning the FGES school district presentation.

First and most importantly, our community was referenced as having 47 students last night.   This number is completely inaccurate.  There are 22 students in this community who attend FGES, this includes current fifth grade children.  Of course there will be one or two new kindergarten children next year, but 47 is more than double the number.  I ask that you please take a look at where you are receiving your data for our neighborhood.  Also, I did not have a copy of the new enrollment numbers last night but a discrepancy was brought up during the meeting regarding the listing there as well.  I again ask that the discrepancy is checked.   Enrollment numbers play such a giant role in this process, I would please ask that the data is double checked before a final decision is made.

Second,  there was no mention at the meeting of the new bus route which will be utilized for the portion of our community which is being redistricted to attend PMES.  Please have someone travel the route during the morning or afternoon commute time.  By moving our students you are sending them on a route that has 5 times the number of accidents than their current one.   The intersection they will have to negotiate has an extremely high volume of traffic, very small turn radius, and most importantly no traffic light.  It is almost impossible for members of this neighborhood to leave via the Hillside/22 exit during rush hours.  I am truly fearful for our children’s safety if they must use this route to school.

Another problem that stood out to me last night was when it was mentioned that FGES has declining enrollment and no potential for future growth there was no feedback from the BOE.  The comment was just left out in the air, until eventually it was dismissed as perhaps a rhetorical question.  It is not rhetorical.  The HCPS data shows a declining enrollment at FGES, therefore no redistricting is necessary.

My final point concerns the matrix.  In the FAQ section last night it was stated that no alternate plans were posted to the matrix if there was not an alternate move of students listed  to allow for a community to stay in a district.  That is just not the case.  For example Stoneridge, a FGES community, is listed on the matrix and there plan simply asks that they be retained in FGES with no alternate move.  As a school community we feel no other move is necessary to keep FGES under capacity so why would we suggest it.  Our PTA backs our plan and makes the same reccomendation.

I realize that “Fountain Green Heights” is just a tiny yellow section of your very large multi-colored map.  However, it is because of that fact we feel we are being overlooked.  We are not a large neighborhood with the capacity to bring 40 or 50 people to a BOE meeting, but our children are just as important.  Please do not uproot them from their friends and school when it is just not necessary.

I thank you again for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Laura Barnaba

Here is the documentation Fountain Green Heights parents prepared for the redistricting committee:

Fountain Green Heights Alternate Redistricting Plan[1]-1