From residents of Hampton Ridge/Leeswood Garth communities:
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter represents the concerns of a group of residents of the Hampton Ridge/Leeswood Garth communities regarding the proposed redistricting plan.
While we support the county-wide redistricting initiative, we do not believe it is in the best interests of our children to be redistricted to Bel Air Elementary School for the following reasons:
1. As it stands, the current proposed plan does not meet a number of the parameters outlined by the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), including:-Continuity of Neighborhoods parameter: “attending the school closest to community.” For the residents of Hampton Ridge/Leeswood, this varies because our neighborhood covers so much geographic area. However, for the homes closer to the Rte. 543 side of the community, there are at least three schools (Fountain Green, Hickory and Prospect Mill) that are closer than Bel Air Elementary School.
– Continuity of Neighborhoods parameter: “look at major roads as natural dividing lines.” This was clearly not done with our neighborhood, as there are a number of communities on the other side of Route 22 who will remain at PMES while we are shifting. For example, currently a small pocket neighborhood on the opposite side of 22 and 543 off of Brierhill behind the apartments is being uprooted from its current school Homestead-Wakefield to move to the PMES district. It doesn’t seem to make sense if you are trying to minimize the amount of students affected.
– Capacity/Enrollment/Utilization parameter: “stick with 85-95% capacity.” Moving our community to Bel Air Elementary will cause that school to have a projected capacity of 99.5%, while leaving Prospect Mill at 91.9%, Fountain Green at 89% and Hickory at 95.4%. A better option could be to keep another community currently slated to be redistricted to Hickory Elementary at PMES and redistrict Hampton Ridge/Leeswood to Hickory to meet this parameter.-Miscellaneous parameter: “try to avoid ‘small pockets’ of students from one elementary school feeding into a different middle school than the rest of their classmates.” Our children would be in a minority of students from Bel Air Elementary who would feed into Southampton Middle School and C. Milton Wright High School.
– Miscellaneous parameter: “move as few students as possible.” Again, with Prospect Mill now projected at only 91.9% it seems clear another neighborhood could remain in that district to help achieve this parameter.
2. Not only would the proposed redistricting plan result in a “small pocket” of students from our community feeding from Bel Air Elementary to Southampton Middle School, we are a small pocket moving into Bel Air Elementary – putting our children in a situation twice of changing schools and going in knowing only the kids from their immediate neighborhood.
3. While we understand that middle and high school redistricting is not slated for the immediate future, we have a serious concern that if our children attend Bel Air Elementary they are more likely to be redistricted down the road for Bel Air Middle/High, which would be highly objectionable given our geographic proximity to Southampton and C. Milton Wright.
In terms of offering a viable alternative, a number of us have individually submitted emails to the redistricting email address requesting information on the number of students in each subdivision to make some informed suggestions, but to date have received no response.
However, possible alternatives include:
· Keeping another community currently slated to be redistricted for Hickory at Prospect Mill and shifting our community to Hickory Elementary. If there is insufficient capacity to keep a community such as the Villages of Thomas Run or Tudor Manor at Prospect Mill, you could consider moving the Emerald Hills community, which is located behind Safeway on the other side of Rte. 22, from Prospect Mill to Fountain Green to open additional room.
· Moving the communities of Deer Run/Deer Manor from Hickory to Bel Air Elementary (as those students are currently among the only students at Hickory who feed into Bel Air Middle and High) and shifting our community to Hickory.
As you can see from this letter, we completely support the redistricting initiative and unlike many other neighborhoods, are not specifically advocating staying at our current school. We have seen our children suffer from the effects of overcrowding over the past five years and, while sad to leave, understand that our geographic location does make us a sensible choice to move to another school district.
However, while we recognize that Bel Air Elementary is a fine school, we sincerely believe that our children would further suffer unfairly not once, but twice, by being the only group from Prospect Mill to switch to Bel Air and then by being among the only students from Bel Air to move on to Southampton and C. Milton Wright. While we understand that children are resilient, shouldn’t we be trying to give them every advantage to receive the best possible education instead of making things harder for them by exposing them to the emotional impact of leaving their friends twice?
That is why we ask you to reconsider moving our community to Bel Air Elementary School and instead look at options that would send us to a school such as Hickory, Prospect Mill or Fountain Green where the majority of students will move on to Southampton Middle and C. Milton Wright.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to the next version of the redistricting plan.
Kathy and Andy Walsh
Vince and Amy Novak
Victor and Melanie Denard
Sheilah and Henry Simberg
Bonnie and Mike Mitrega
Molly and Mike Dempsey
Tony and Laura Lamb
Sharon and Steve Bazzetta
Marti and Edward Coogan
Kathy and John Brock
Scott and Sherry Bauer
Christopher and Angela Hoover
Lucie and Jay Pepe
Christopher and Rhonda Acra