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.
I was also at the BOE meeting Monday night and in my neighborhood it stated that there were 42 children. There are 11 kids slated to be moved. There are 42 Homes in my neighborhood. 30 kids more then reality. These numbers are a huge issue that need to be addressed before ANY final decisions can be made. I have a feeling this is happening across the county. In the end Stac Won’t acheive their goals because the numbers are so off that the capacities won’t drop near what they think. Huge problem !!
I was also at the meeting on Monday, and it was made clear to the BOE members that the numbers they were asking for (about these specific neighborhoods) were quick estimates and that the questions were being recorded so that STAC could get the EXACT numbers to the BOE memners the following day.
The #’s are so far off that if tomorrow the passed this plan as is…..my school would be down MAYBE 2-3 percent if that! They have rushed this process and not taken the time to really examine to the numbers, neighborhoods KIDS. I know it is a HUGE undertaking and that is the POINTl!!! Make sure you have it right! Peace out!
They are NOT passing the plan tomorrow. The board members have the time (And the desire — otherwise they wouldn’t have been asking the questions)to get the accurate numbers. The public still has another opportunity to express their concerns to the board before a decision is made. The process has been ongoing since the beginning of the year and public comment has been documented, discussed and the plan has been changed if feasible.
Also, there have been a huge amount of flawed or exaggerated numbers coming from all of the parent’s groups who are in the “don’t move my kids — move someone else’s” or the “I bought my house here because of the school” movements. Who are the board members going to believe?
What flawed numbers are you referring to??? I believe that the board members will now be forced to take a closer look. I don’t think anyone has submitted any exaggerated numbers. My number was actually of by 1. I’m not factoring in the 5 graders going to middle school next year. A quick estimate is one thing but 30 kids more than reality is a whole other ballgame.
kathleen murphy says
I think that HCPS has worked diligently to arrive at a redistricting plan that is equitable. Unfortunately, once the school system starting bowing to the cries and moans of the parents, now everyone wants their changes to be made. I wish we had a Board of Education with a back bone. I have never seen a school system that is so reactionary. For heavens sake, you are receiving a wonderful education in clean, modern facilities. We in Harford County has so much to be thankful for. I for one, am so glad my children do not attend school in Fallston, the capital of whiners.
Some of the adjustments requested by parents have made a lot of sense and it is to the credit of the STAC that they have made appropriate changes. I have not seen any changes that could not be supported by a logical and rational thinking. The whiners who made no legitimate argument were dismissed. That is not to say that all whiners did not have some reasonable gripes or rational alternative plans. Unfortunately not all adjustment plan can be met and so STAC made recommendations on what they believed was in the best interest of the county as a whole.
Good education, clean modern facilities????? Not by a long shot!
I meant to say Good education YES, clean modern facilities not by a long shot!!!
Kathleen , you are just rude.
Tom Lusardi says
Oh sure, all of us do have lots to be thankful for, but that has nothing to do with this process. Last time I checked that oft forgotten little piece of paper called the Constitution, we all have a right to express our opinions and this is an excellent example of a time where we should exercise that right. This is a local issue that affects all of us – some don’t care, some won’t take any time to understand those impacts, some will call names to anyone who disagrees, and others will study, ask questions, analyze and discuss their opinions and objections – that is the process.
Kudos to all of the parents across the County who understand the impact on multiple levels of this draft plan. Long drives to schools outside your community – for children as young as 5 yrs old, disruption of community and neighborhood activities, moves in directions completely opposite daily life activities that made your part of Harford County attractive, taxes both paid and seen spent, and yes, property valuation. All of these are on peoples radar – like it or not they are all real in areas that will be shifted outside their existing physical community location.