The following letter was sent from Cyrus Etemad-Moghadam of Upper Crossroads to Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tomback and the members of the Board of Education. A copy was provided to The Dagger:
Members of the board, Dr. Tomback:
My name is Cyrus Etemad-Moghadam of Uppercrossroads neighborhood, in Fallston. After leaving the last board meeting, I felt that the only true goal of the STAC was to fill all the schools evenly – a goal not met in itself based on the data from the STAC. The parameters set for the STAC as stated on the board of education web site were not met in many cases.
I have gone through the list with respect to Fallston and pointed out to the non?compliances – even when the requirements are qualitative. There are too many to cover so I would like to focus on the more importance requirements as they apply to our children:
Under the “Continuity of Neighborhoods” section, the main goals were not looked at per Mr. Licata. In his own words, “distance is not an issue, some kids have over 45 minute rides north of the county”. Uppercrossroads has been split in the middle despite being one of the oldest neighborhoods in Fallston itself one of the oldest communities as a whole. The 1 mile maximum requirement is not met as can be seen in the attached chart. Some streets are also spit as shown.
In the case of “Multiple siblings opportunity to attend same school”, this will not happen since the proposed plan is to possibly grandfather only the fifth graders. In addition, one issue not considered is the splitting of kids between Fallston MS and HS and Jarrettsville adding 7 miles one way compared to YBES for parents.
Under the “Timing” section as well as “Transportation”, bus rides are a priority. Right now my kids have a 2.5 miles from YBES which takes 30 minutes. Mr. Licata stated that the Uppercrossroards corner is only 5.2 miles from Jarrettsville Elementary during the last meeting.
However, we cannot take a left turn from Franklins Chance so we have to go the other route, which is 7 miles. How can 7 miles (taking 152 to 146 ? only way to go with right turns) work for Uppercrossroads? This is only for our neighborhood, what about the others. Mr. Licata stated that there would be no routes drawn until the redistricting is approved.
Under the Capacity/Enrollment/Utilization section, the plan of being in the 85?95% capacity is not met. Before redistricting, 16 schools are over the 95% capacity, 17 after. Why is the old capacity of 890 being used for YBES before and 958 after the redistricting when there have been no structural changes to the school? Why is Darlington being increased >100% when Dublin is at 76%? Why is Edgewood, in the middle of populated areas at 50% (being reduced) – these being examples the requirements not being met.
In summary, I hope you, our school board, will serve your first customers, your children, our children and reverse or at least slow down the process such that the STAC parameters are thoroughly reviewed and the Fallston area, as all other areas, are fairly treated. Thank you
Etemad-Moghadam’s full presentation is included below:
This letter is full of factual mistakes and misrepresentations. First, Jarrettsville Elementary is only 7 miles away from Youth’s Benefit, so unless you live at the school itself it’s closer than 7 miles. Second, there’s noway a bus route from Uppercrossroads to Jarrettsville will be even close to 45 minutes. Third, there are three options being considered for grandfathering: 5th graders only, 5th graders and siblings, and no grandfathering. And, fourthly, while the number of schools at or above 95% will go up from 16 to 17 the number of schools over 110% will drop from 5 to 0, the number of schools over 120% will drop 3 to 0, and the number of schools under 85% will drop from 11 to 4 providing a more balanced distribution.
Nobody wants to have to move their kids from their school, but some of the elementary schools are really over capacity and Harford county continues to grow. Youth’s Benefit is above capacity and Jarrettsville, only 7 miles away, is about equally below capacity. It only makes perfect logical sense to move them there.
Additionally he lists YMCA as a service provided by the school when it is not, and circles two split roads that are not part of a nieghborhood and refers to all of Fallston as ONE neighborhood. The few schools over 100% capacity he neglects to mention are by 4 or less kids. Additionally the BOE explained that the state rated capacities changed for many buildings.
Cyrus EM says
CDEV – the requirement clearly states NO STREET SPLIT – not neighborhood which are defined as parcels by the way, not neighborhoods
So…….should all of Wheel road from Abingdon clear to the other end of the county go to one school and all of 152 from Joppa north go to one school? No the idea was to keep communities together. MAjor roads will have to be split and it said communities or nieghborhoods!
These are desired outcomes not requirements that have to be met by the STAC or approved by the BOE. If the STAC can meet all of the desired outcomes for some schools but not all for some other schools this will most likely be acceptable to the BOE. There is no way to satisfy everyone, some will be disappointed.
Cyrus EM says
Dan: First – I am not affected – my kids are done with elementary school, and I could care less about property values – I plan to live in my house until I can’t go up the stairs, at which point any possible impact will be gone. Second, I am only discussion Fallston because that’s where I live. Most of the changes proposed by the STAC are unnecessary and are impacting other communities. If you don’t move kids to Jarrettville from YBES and all of a sudden a lot of kids are place back where they come from.
If you READ the letter clearly, you will see that the 7 mile distance is taking RIGHT TURNS only.
I have NO problem if the redistricting is done FAIRLY and CORRECTLY. If you take the time to review all the information available, the STAC data, the HC BOE web site, you will find it was not done right. Why should kids from Dublin go to Darlington when the school is already under capacity, why should Darlington have to suffer overcapacity…???
Cyrus EM says
Dan: One last comment: You mentioned the schools over 120% capacity drop from 3 to 0, but that is simple to do since the students from that school go to Red Pump now… and isn’t it interesting that YBES goes under 110, when the capacity magically grew by 68 kids… It was under 110 already then since there has been no structural updates to YBES for as long as I have been in Fallston. So if you are looking for misrepresentations, start with the STAC and how it presents its numbers…
The kids from Emmorton do not go to red pump!
STAC does not determine the capacity of a building….the state BOE does when they decide how many kids should be in an elementary class size!
I think everyone realizes that no one wants to be redistricted and it seems unfair to those that are. However, there is a real problem of overcrowding in some schools, while other are greatly below capacity. The plan to shift the boundaries towards the northern schools is the only one that makes any sense. There’s simply no other place to move the students too.
Tom Lusardi says
Fact is that a school bus in Harford County is not permitted to make a left turn onto 152 to travel the shortest distance to JES – which is greater than 5 miles. Instead, that bus would be forced to make a left turn and travel just over 7 miles to that school.
This letter also touches on the community continuity issue that is most important to this particular area – and it has been discussed in many outlets including prior Dagger letters. Carving this part of Fallston make no sense whatsover to the people who live here. Although there may be areas that would logically be moved elsewhere, this is not one of them.
It is interesting that JES is now being marketed as “only 7 miles away.” Apply that distance all over the county and see how “only 7 miles” affects drive times. None of us moved to this area to bus our children across county. There is a school relatively close by – it happens to be YBES. Is there any concern that the BOE or County put the plan to build an updated school at YBES on hold indefinitely? Any wonder where all of our tax dollars went for that deperately needed project? Were those expenses in the best interest of our children (all of the Harford County children)?
A Merry Christmas to all who are struggling with this issue.
The biggest issue I have with arguments against redistricting is that the people complaining aren’t opposed to redistricting in general they’re just against their neighborhoods being redistricted. They’re perfectly fine with others having to go to another school as long as it’s not them. Kind of like when you said:
“Carving this part of Fallston make no sense whatsover to the people who live here. Although there may be areas that would logically be moved elsewhere, this is not one of them.”
This just shows: at best a lack of understanding that no community wants to be moved and at worst a self-serving “better them than us” attitude.
Answer me this: Why should certain parts of North Fallston be given special considerations, advantages, and rights over the rest of the Y.B.E.S school distract?
You can not go across the county in 7 miles at any part of the county except to go from oneside of Joppatowne to another.
Tom Lusardi says
Nobody is asking for “special” consideration – just applying some logic, something that is sorely lacking in the proposed plan by alleged experts. BTW – the plan for this part of Fallston has a negative domino affect in JES, North Bend and Norrisville where the “experts” are just shifting a few seats for the sake of shifting seats – none of which takes the pressure off YBES or any other school in the County. The planned “new YBES” would fit far beyond their current enrollment – an enrollment that is declining slightly contrary to the false numbers being claimed in earlier reports. This takes into consideration declining enrollment from the current population plus anticipated development and new families moving into the area in coming years. As to your question, how about we start with “what area is defined as Fallston? If you check the County records you’ll see that the eastern, SE and northern areas are not Fallston and in some cases are already ridiculous drives to YBES. That might be a constructive way of looking at all of the western and northern schools. Contrary to some opinions, there are actually distinct communities in these areas and many see their schools as a central element of the community. The said experts don’t seem to get that.
So according to you students that go to Youths Benefit but live in other communities such as Baldwin, Joppa, Kingsville, and Forest Hill should be the ones redistricted and not those that actually live in Fallston. Because since they don’t actually live in Fallston it’s not really their school in the first place. And redistricting the neighborhoods that are the closes to another school that has the room to take them and that would have the least amount of impact on the students and county as a whole is somehow illogical.
I’m just trying to clarify your exact reasoning why it’s perfectly acceptable to redistrict other communities but it’s a travesty for yours.
It seems perfectly reasonable that if someone lives within a couple miles of an elementary school they should be allowed to go to that school rather than being bused 7 miles away.
Is that unreasonable to you?
Of course it’s not unreasonable. But, when the primary school has become over crowded it’s no longer your proximity to that school that’s important, it’s your proximity to a viable alternative school that’s of most importance.
It might not make a lot of sense at first to redistrict a neighborhood that’s only 2 or 3 miles away from the school instead of one that 5 or 6, but when the closer neighborhood also has a closer alternative that’s only 5 or 6 miles away instead of 11 or 12 miles for the other it makes perfect sense.
Phil Dirt says
That’s how I read his comment.
As a YBES mom that is not currently being redistricted, I find it very sad, that our northern families are crying, “don’t tear apart our community” and at the same time, offering up others in the YBES district to move. Which is it? Is YBES one community? Or do you just use that to keep your neighborhood from being moved?
This apparent willingness to throw one group under the bus to protect their own interests is not going unnoticed.
Cyrus EM says
Everyone: Please take the time to read my recommendations:
1) don’t touch YBES at this point in time you have perfectly good portables (better than the rest of the school)
2) build a new YBES in the future as planned especially after 250 new homes are to be built in Fallston
3) Don’t move kids – ANY – not in North or South or elsewhere.
We need to stick together on this issue fighting does not fix anything – In Fallston we have an old school and no planning to correct this. Moving kids around does not fix the problem. That was my point – and based on Facts (again take the time to actually read my comments)
Cyrus I do not want my taxes to go up to pay for a new school when we have plenty of usable schools
I do not want to pay for a new school when we have a school building that is perfectly usable.
Cdev – The primary building and kindergarten building do need extensive repairs.
If that is the case then either renovating or building a new building is fine but to do so to expand capacity is not.
It is simple, the closest students to the school get to go to that communities school until the school reaches full capacity. Once it is at full capacity the students who live farther away need to be transported to another school that is not at full capacity. If you wanted your kid to go to that school you should have bought a closer house.
It’s not how close you live to the initial over-crowded school that matters. It’s how close you live to an alternative under-capacity school. If and only if the distance to the alternative school is about equal should proximity to the initial school be given any consideration. If you didn’t want to be redistricted you should have picked a house that wasn’t so close to another school.
FYI, I specifically bought my house where I did because it was The closest neighbord to YBES at the time. The new neighborhoods did not exist. AND Fallston had ONE elementary, middle and high school ,which was the appeal. It has been like that for Years and years. Now if I lived and mid way or more to Jarresttsville it would be a better argument. It seems to me that when moving where I did, it was a logical assumption that we would always, without question attend to only school in the community.
Ummm, we did ! that is the whole point!
If it were only that simple, but it is not.
I understand what you are saying, but you can not send a student to a school that is already at full capacity. That is against the law. If they need to travel farther to go to a school that is not at full capacity so be it. (within a 30-40 minute bus ride)
B: It is not against the law at all and there is some big contradictions going on with the school system. My kids go to Patterson Mill and the middle school is the most overcrowded in the county BECAUSE of boundary exceptions. Most of them are from people who work for the school system from cafeteria workers, custodians and teachers and not necessarily ones that work in the building. Parents in the school have complained to the Superintendent and BOE for 2 years to no avail. The Superintendent said and listen carefully that “The Test Scores at Patterson Mill were good and therefore overcrowding wasn’t a problem.” Shocking but true. For anyone whose child is at Youth Benefits and there is overcrowding, I would use that rationale because that is the one he used. They don’t care about the large classes or crowded hallways and that other middle schools are being way undercapacity.
Pretty disheartening isn’t it?
I would asume it would be against fire codes to have to many people in the building but maybe I am wrong. But I do see it as a danger and a disability to have so many students in the same facility.
I don’t believe “yet again” that anyone is throwing anyone under the bus! PROXIMITY and LOGIC are the points that are being made. I think it is illogical ACROSS THE COUNTY not just in FALLSTON to send these small pockets of kids to a school that is double and triple the distance ! There has got to be a better way. AND YBES parent and students have not bitched about the fact that in the summer it is Freezing (60 degrees) in one building the other has no air. In the winter It is Hot(80 degrees) There are buckets catching condensation in our 1953 buildings. We do deserve a new school. How about improvements???? So don’t tell me We are behaving as if we are entitled!
You are absolutely correct. PROXIMITY and LOGIC are key. If a school has become overcrowded and the county has decided to redistrict some of the students to a nearby school that is well below capacity, then it’s only LOGICAL that the neighborhoods that get redistricted are the ones that are in the closes PROXIMITY to the alternate school.
Ok, then what happened to the originial intent for Red Pump??? The entire reason to build Red pump , as stated by the head of planning an zoning , was to alieviate overcrowding in Three schools. YBES was one of those schools. I know several people who fully expected to attend Red pump. They live a stones throw from the new school. That would have been a logical solution to YBES’s overcrowding. There are so many other logical solutions to be examined. This is not a “don’t redistrict MY child, redistrict someone else’s” it is simply look at the plan on paper and if you can find logic in this plan that will stand the test of time , then so be it. In our case this is just a bandaid. It is absurd what they are trying to do across the county. What is the rush?
Red Pump allows for overcrowding relief for YBES, as it provides the ability to shift kids around and balance enrollment for the county. It was never stated that Red Pump would provide relief by taking students directly from YBES to Red Pump, only that it would provide relief, which it does.
Moving some of the students from YBES to Red Pump instead of Jarrettsville would make perfect sense if those were the only schools in the county. The main problem that you just don’t seem to understand is that practically all the schools in southern and central Harford County are at or over capacity. Trying to force more students into those areas makes absolutely no sense. Even with the addition of Red Pump the surrounding school are still running at over 90% capacity. The only fair and logical solution is to shift the whole county north towards those schools that are well below capacity.
I see what you are saying but the truth of the matter is….The northern area Jarrettsville ect. Is not going to suddenly populate. They have one too many schools. There has always been talk of closing Norrisville and it caused quite and uproar. I sympathize with them but that school has been and will remain to be under capacity. Even with redistricting, in a couple of years, guess, under capacity once again.
The orginal intent for Red Pump was for YBES students to attend the school at stated by C.pete Gutwald as seen below.
“Forest Lakes, Hickory and Youth’s Benefit elementary schools, which previously exceeded the state-rated 110 percent utilization, yield a combined projected enrollment of 2,497 for 2012.
The combined capacity of these three schools and Red Pump Elementary School will be 2,756 students for a combined use rate of 90.6 percent.
It is anticipated that the use rate of Red Pump Elementary School and the three adjacent schools — Forest Lakes, Hickory and Youth’s Benefit — will be less than the 110 percent utilization rate as required by the Adequate Public Facilities ordinance.
Until adequate school capacity is available, subdivision plans greater than five lots within the attendance areas for Emmorton and Prospect Mill elementary schools will not be approved, but will continue to be reviewed and placed on a waiting list.
Gutwald said it’s too early to tell when these schools will be removed from building moratorium list.” The Aegis
They have split 152 down the middle so there are a whole slew of people that are closer to Jarrestsville then we are, but that isn’t the point. Red pump was to aleive overcrowding, not be filled up at 100% before it even opened its doors. Take a look at the attendence area for Red Pump and tell how much sense that makes. Not much to me. Just my opinion. We are all entitled to that.
You can thank Slutzky and friends. They pushed for Red Pump to open development. As stated previously the plan became, when only one school got built, to eleviate over crowding primarily at Prospect Mill, Emmorton and YBES. This does not mean the kids go to that school.
Understood. Again logistics, Kids on Red Pump road aren’t going to Red Pump school. You are right they built more and filled to school. But again They could better balance the attendence areas and make them more pratical all the way around. I understand that the communities were not built around the schools in most cases, which does make it tougher. But I feel this “Domino effect is not effecient and will only solve any overcrowding issues temporarily , therefore we will be back in this boat a lot sooner then they say we will.
Comprehensive redistricting was long overdue. This is a process HCPS needs to go through every other year. This would keep school attendance and capacity issues under control and not lead to the kind of termoil we see with the current effort.
It is definately turmoil! 🙂 I certainly don’t think anyone expected to growth that has occured in Harford County.
You didn’t?????it was called BRAC!
Turmoil – sorry, brain working faster than fingers.
How could they better balance. You said they can. Please let us know because those of us who are not emotionally affected by this see this as pretty logical.
Let me count the ways !There are a host of other solutions that don’t need to effect the entire county. come the BOA and hear them. Where do you live ? That could be a big reason why you see the logic. I bet if you lived across the street from your school and they wanted to send you miles away you’d be emotional ! That is not my situation , but a neighborhood that is 35 yards I think from Ring Factory! That is illogical no matter how you slice it.
Instead of counting them….why don’t you tell us them? See it is easier to say there is a better way then to actually come up with one. Those that have I commend particularly those who have looked at data. You however seem to be interested in complaining only. Your solution is to do nothing if I understand you! SOmeone has to move. I am in the boat my kid is not moving. My kid has friends who are moving from their school so that others no longer have to go to school in a trailer park and they are fine with it.
CDev I should rephrase re” noone expected the growth ect…”
They didn’t properly plan for the growth. No forshadowing what so ever. I realize that they take the land that they can get to build a school but come on, some planning has to take place. Isn’t that what Planning and Zoning is for?
CDEV, whoever you are , and by the the way don’t have the nerve to actually state your name….. You are off base. I’m not going to “state my data ” on this site. Like i said before Go to the BOA meeting and hear the facts. I am part of a community that is in disagreement with this plan. If that makes me a complainer , then so be it. Boo Hoo !
I would actually love to see you at one of the BOA meetings! What a debate to be had !
I assume you mean BOE meetings? I attend such meetings. So essentially you don’t like the plan but have no other idea to solve the problem!
Yep I meant BOE ! we, as a community , have a lot of other ideas that will be presented at the next Board Meeting. The Bully card is really getting old.
I am not bullying. I am simply participating in a debate. One where ideas are shared. You say you will share them at the next BOE meeting. That is fine but would it hurt to let us preview them and give you feedback that may make your plan look better. Are you at least in agreement that some kids need to be moved from YBES? There are those that believe that they don’t. Which group do you belong to?
CDEV, Yes I think that some kids need to be moved. I’m not coming from a place of Don’t move my kid. I simply think that there are more logical choices that don’t pluck small groups. If I was in a large neighborhood and was a a couple of miles from jarretsville, then I could understand a move more easily. Would I still be upset? Yes. But logistically and being part of a large neighborhood, would make more sense. Even when the orginal line was 165 and all people north. At least that would be a large group that would stay together and move on the Fallston Middle together. Numbers that are correct are hard to come by. We have school numbers , but not neighbor hood numbers. With actual body counts, it would make our plans soooo much easier. I’m just north of 165.
I used the information in the YBES Student Directory to break down and sort the school’s overall number, though I didn’t break them down to the neighborhood level. If you don’t have a directory I’ll be glad to help you if I can. I’m not sure what your looking for, because unless your able to convince them to scrap the entire redistricting plan now as it stands and start all over, some students from YBES are going to Jarrettsville.
We’ve tried the directory and it isn’t accurate. Not having numbers is very frustrating. Clearly this is deliberate on their part.
It should be accurate enough to give you numbers to work with as a starting point. I can’t imagine that a dozen or so kids either way would be significant enough to make an alternative plan either more or less compelling.
The total # of kids to be moved “they say” is 153. We came up w/ just over 60 using the directory. I suppose some people opt not to be listed.