I have been reviewing the information provided in the HCPSS Superintendent Area Adjustment Plan and thought I would share some of my early findings and questions in this document. I am starting with high schools (I will have follow up articles related the the middle schools and Elementary schools when I have more time). I am going to detail some the items noted in the Executive Summary (capacity, equity and HS #13) of the proposed plan and some other items on my “to look at” list.

Number of students moving:

According to the document there are 2,851 high school students that will be reassigned in this plan. According to the 2019 Feasibility Study the estimated total number of students in high school (for 2020-2021) is expected to be 18,335. So just over 15.5% of all high school kids would be reassigned in this plan (almost 1 in every 7 students). That seems like a lot but it has been a while since a full redistricting plan was implemented and maybe that is just the number needed this time around.

Capacity / Overcrowding:

Let’s first start with this chart

If we do nothing (per the chart) we will have 5 school over 110% capacity and 2 additional schools at or over 100% capacity. This plans changes that making only 2 school over 110% capacity and 8 schools at or over 100% capacity.

This on paper looks like an even distribution of students throughout the county. I will note that 2 schools (Marriotts Ridge and Wilde Lake) are both listed right at that magic 110% capacity number that would move them from green to red.

Equity by addressing the distribution of students participating in the Free and Reduced price meals program (FARMs) across schools to the extent feasible.

This issue has been discussed a lot recently…especially after the council press release and the Council Resolution that was submitted. How did the schools do with this objective in the plan for high schools…let’s start with the chart:

The Base numbers (or if we do nothing plan) say:

  • 4 schools have more than 33% of students receiving FARMs
  • 3 schools have less than 10% of students receiving FARMs

The Proposed numbers (in this plan) say:

  • 4 schools have more than 33% of students receiving FARMs
  • 3 schools have less than 10% of students receiving FARMs

To be fair…here are some items of significance:

  • Wild Lake has the highest drop falling from 46% to 38%
  • Atholton gains the highest number going from 10% up to 25% (I have more to say about that below)
  • Long Reach drops from 47% to 42%
  • River Hill gains from <5% to 5%
  • All of the other numbers vary by less than 5% at any one school

This was without question going to be the most difficult part of the plan to deal with for the school system. The development patterns and policies have helped lead to the concentration of low income families in certain areas of this county and it is very difficult for the school system to redistrict their way out of that concentration. That being said…when you look at the data…not sure you can say this issue has been fully addressed yet. I wonder what comments we will get from the County Councilmembers going forward?

Rockburn Township

I could not look at the high school data and not mention what happened with the Rockburn Township area…especially after that flyer and the responses from principals and the Superintendent.

It looks like this plan has the area around Rockburn Township moving from Howard HS to Long Reach HS (polygons 86, 87, 1086, 1087, 2087, 3087 and 4087).

I can say as a parent of a kid that graduated from Long Reach High School…I LOVE that school and glad my kid went there for four years.

High School #13

While a boundary plan for High School #13 was not part of this plan…the future school was mentioned in this way “Plan ahead for the High School #13 redistricting by minimizing double moves as much as possible”.

We know what has been suggested in the past:

If that stays the plan…it appears as if 9 polygons will be tagged with moving twice:

  • Moving to Oakland Mills and then moving to HS #13 (polygons 35, 1035, 2035, 3035, 4035, and 1082)
  • Moving to Hammond and then moving to HS #13 (polygons 266, 33 and 1033)

Of course all of this is dependent on the boundary plan for HS #13 not changing from what has been proposed.

Atholton HS boundary lines:

Of all of the changes to boundary lines for high schools this is the one that baffles me. Here are the proposed lines for Atholton HS (see dark green areas on the map):

I made the comment recently on a social media platform that the boundary lines for Atholton HS looks very much like some of the congressional districts here in Maryland. I am really hoping to hear more about why this is the plan for that school. Visually it does not look like keeping a community together in a school. Visually it appears that Atholton had the most dramatic changes.

I am going to tell you when I saw this map and then looked at the numbers in the plan…the first thing that went through my head was that this was proposed to show what school boundaries would look like if the school system made a significant effort in distributing students on FARMs equitably throughout the school system. Maybe I am way off base…but I have say it did cross my mind…especially after looking at the changes noted in the chart earlier in this document changing Atholton from 10% to 25% students receiving FARMs.

I hope my first thought is wrong and that there is a better explanation to this boundary plan for that school. I hope to hear more about it in the coming weeks and months. I think of all of the plans submitted this one for this school may need to greatest explanation to residents (in my opinion).

Know that I have much more data to review and some of that may change some of my opinions and comments above…but these are some of the notable things I have found up to this point.

That is all I have for this morning. Going to have some more coffee  and then head out to the Crab Feast this afternoon. That should make for a fun day.

Everyone enjoy your weekend. I may have more data articles related to this plan over the next week or so depending on my schedule.

Scott E

15 COMMENTS

  1. A few years back I recall a wise school board member request that students not be called FARMS, but rather students receiving FARMs. I think we should restore that terminology in all written and oral communication.

  2. Noticeable the two areas in CHS district that screamed loudest in 2017 (and threatened law suits) Dunloggin and Centennial Overlook/polygon 147 were not redistricted.

  3. Does anyone have any insight into why Atholton High School seems to historically been subject to such very large changes in their attendance area? I Have looked but I haven’t been able to find the articles from I believe it was early 2000’s maybe late 1990s but I thought Atholton was almost completely redistricted with all new kids coming in and all the existing students leaving? Does anyone remember this better or have any clarification? Someone had posted that 600 some other time and students or 42% of the school is slated to be redistricted per this plan.

    • Atholton because of it’s central location has faced this change every time the county has opened a new high school in the county. In the Late 90s/early 2000s, when Reservoir opened, Atholton lost their traditional southwestern corner of the county.
      Between the 2000-2001, and 2001-2002 school year, Atholton lost all their freshmen from the Reservoir section of the county, unless they had older siblings to carpool them. Those students who were still Juniors and Seniors at Atholton in the affected Reservoir district were still able to finish out at Atholton and had access to busing.

      Someone should probably reach out to Ellen Giles if she’s willing, since she was a concerned member of the PTA at the time.

      Surprisingly, the group of Atholton students near Hammond High have been a traditional population for Atholton, because those students are centered along Gormon Road. To send them to Hammond High is a much longer trip. And indeed, prior to the Reservoir redistricting, those students went to Atholton anyway.

  4. River Hill gains from <5% to 5%
    All of the other numbers vary by less than 5% at any one school

    That could be a whopping 1% while their immediate neighbor to the northeast
    has a huge impact.
    Frankly, I'm left wondering why they were protesting yesterday at River Hill.

    • Even the overall change in the numbers is not that significant, if you look into the details, you might get your answer.

      1) River Hill is an under-capacity school, the proposal wants to move 478 students out and bring in 741 students in that is a net gain of 229 students. The total turnover of students will be 1229 students!! That is a rate of over 80% of the school total capacity. This is the highest turnover school in the county as proposed!!!
      The polygons that they propose to move from River Hill to Wilde Lake live about 1.5-3.5miles away from River Hill.

      2) The proposal will TRIPLE the distance to about 6-9 miles away and increase commute times in the morning and for after school activities.

      3. The Proposal mentions moving 513 students from Atholton to River Hill. The polygons that they propose to move live farther away to River Hill than communities closer to River Hill High School

  5. So with all of this, would anyone like to take an educated guess as to the chances of these proposals actually passing and getting put into place? And your reasoning behind your answers?

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