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 going to detail some the items noted in the Executive Summary (capacity and equity) of the proposed plan and some other items on my “to look at” list.
Number of students moving:
According to the document there are 3,194 elementary school students that will be reassigned in this plan. According to the 2019 Feasibility Study the estimated total number of students in elementary school (for 2020-2021) is expected to be 25,784. So around 12.4% of all elementary school students would be reassigned in this plan (so around 1 in every 8 elementary school student).
Capacity / Overcrowding:
Let’s first start with this chart
If we do nothing (per the chart – BASE) we will have 11 schools over 110% capacity and 11 additional schools at or over 100% capacity and 9 schools under capacity (less than 90%).
This plan continues to have 9 schools over 110% capacity and 13 schools at or over 100% capacity and 5 schools under capacity (less than 90%).
There are some pretty big swings up and down in terms of capacity at some schools on the chart above. Some look normal…others seem odd. Taking schools that are over capacity (over 110%) and dropping them to under 90% is a big shift (see Elkridge ES)..as well as taking school under capacity to over 110% in this plan is a big shift (see Bushy Park ES). These shift seems much more significant than what was done at the middle school and high school plans.
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 elementary schools…let’s start with the chart:
The Base numbers (or if we do nothing plan) say:
- 17 schools have more than 33% of students receiving FARMs
- 14 schools have less than 10% of students receiving FARMs
The Proposed numbers (in this plan) say:
- 18 schools have more than 33% of students receiving FARMs (also 1 schools at 32%)
- 12 schools have less than 10% of students receiving FARMs (and 2 schools at 10%)
Here are some items of significance in the plan:
- Phelps Luck ES drops from 63% to 36%
- Swansfield ES drops from 61% to 44%
- Stevens Forest ES drops from 68% to 54%
- Laurel Woods ES drops from 61% to 49%
- Ducketts Lane ES drops from 55% to 49%
- Waterloo ES gains from 24% to 44%
- Thunder Hill ES gains from 21% to 37%
- Atholton ES gains from 15% to 25%
- Clarksville ES gains from <5% to 17%
- 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. While I note the number of schools with students receiving FARMs at 33% above…the number of schools with students receiving FARMs at 50% or greater prior to this plan is 12…after this plan that number drops to 6 (with 3 schools at 49% or 48%).
One thing really stood out to me on the map..polygons 256 and 1256…slated to move from Fulton ES to Laurel Woods ES. Here is the map of that area:
You will see polygons 256 and 1256 in light green on the left…and Laurel Wood ES on the bottom right…I desperately want to know who thinks that this is a good idea to move those 140 students to that location? SERIOUSLY???
Unfortunately that is not the only weird thing on the map…how about this:
Right next to Talbott Springs ES is polygon 96 (in light blue – it is difficult to see the number but the color stands out). That polygon is currently districted for Stevens Forest ES but in the new plan the 102 students in that polygon will attend Thunder Hill ES. Visually this looks bananas. Maybe there is a good reason…but looking at it on a map one has to say…WTH???
Those are the two items that really stood out for me in looking at the map.
Double moving students in elementary school:
So if you follow Scott E’s blog on Facebook I gave away this as a spoiler:
Polygons 171, 178, 179, 1178, 1179 (currently at West Friendship ES and are planned to go to Triadelphia Ridge ES)…these same polygons were moved in the 2018 redistricting plan moving from Manor Woods ES to West Friendship ES.
The following statement was made in a Facebook group “Redistricted again. Last fall, many elementary students were redistricted to a new school due to overcrowding at Manor Woods. They are planning to move these same children again. Those entering 3rd-5th grade in Fall 2020 will be entering their 3rd elementary school in 4 years due to redistricting alone. This is a failure of the proposed plan and not clearly identified and spelled out as a weakness in the data presented by the superintendent. The travesty is that policy rules were changed that would now allow this to happen.”
Chao Wu did a blog post about the 2018 moves back in the day: https://chaowu.org/2017/11/16/final-2018-hcpss-school-redistricting/
Here is a close in view of the area of those polygons:
Double moving those students to schools further away and once again further away seems wrong to me (and obviously others). These were the only polygons noted being moved again since the 2018 moves…so the question has to be…WHY??
As a reminder: The following public meetings with the Howard County Board of Education are coming up next month:
- Tuesday, September 17, 7 p.m.
- Families currently zoned for Centennial HS, Howard HS, Mt. Hebron HS, Oakland Mills HS
- Tuesday, September 24, 7 p.m.
- Families currently zoned for Atholton HS, Hammond HS, Long Reach HS, Wilde Lake HS
- Thursday, September 26, 7 p.m.
- Families currently zoned for Glenelg HS, Marriotts Ridge HS, Reservoir HS, River Hill HS