The following email was sent to the members of the Harford County Board of Education, Harford County Executive David Craig and Harford County Councilman Richard Slutzky on January 8, 2011. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
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.