The following letter was sent to Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tomback and each member of the Board of Education. A copy was provided to The Dagger:
Dear members of STAC, the school board, and Superintendent Tomback,
I am writing you with one last plea to reconsider the current redistricting plan which calls to redistrict students in the communities of Hampton Ridge/Leeswood Garth from Prospect Mill to Bel Air Elementary School.
In our earlier correspondence and communications to you, we had suggested swapping Deer Run/Deer Manor from Hickory to Bel Air Elementary so that our students could then move from Prospect Mill to Hickory rather than Bel Air. While this was addressed in your community proposal matrix, the only feedback noted was that “DEER RUN AND DEER MANOR WILL REMAIN IN HICKORY ES” with no further explanation.
We are not sure why this was not given more serious consideration.
According to our research (which took considerable effort on our end, as despite repeated requests for students by community, we never received any response to any emails or calls asking for that information), this should be a very close swap of students and has benefits to all involved.
– We are estimating there are approximately 116 elementary students who live in Deer Manor and Deer Run. This figure was derived from school system figures that estimate a single family home adds an average of .28 elementary students and a townhouse adds .25, and from calculating based on there being 238 single family homes and 196 townhomes in Deer Manor/Deer Run.
– Furthermore, there are somewhere between 96 and 136 elementary age students in Hampton Ridge/Leeswood Garth. (Our figures put us closer to the lower end, and while we questioned the numbers provided by the school system, we also never received an answer on that.)
– Therefore, by comparing the 96-136 kids in Hampton Ridge/Leeswood with the 116 Deer Manor/Deer Run, it seems these two communities could easily be swapped between schools.
The benefits of doing this are two-fold and significant:
1. Currently, the communities of Deer Manor/Deer Run are the only children at Hickory Elementary who then go on to Bel Air Middle School. Conversely, Hampton Ridge would be going to Bel Air Elementary and then in the minority of children going to Southampton for middle school. By “swapping” these students, you would be affording all of these children an opportunity to improve the quality of their middle school learning by moving on with friends instead of having to make new friends during what is already a very challenging transition.
2. Additionally, Deer Manor/Run students are closer to BAES while Hampton Ridge/Leeswood are closer to Hickory, saving travel time for the children and expense for the school system. And by working with the natural dividing line afforded by Rte. 1, you are avoiding the safety issues inherent with left turns which would be necessitated out of both communities to take the most direct routes to the schools for which they are currently districted.
To me, this is a clear win-win situation for both communities. Please consider making this change before voting on the final plan.
Finally, I would like to direct a comment to Mr. Wheeler who was quoted in yesterday’s Aegis as saying that right now, he is not in favor of doing any grandfathering. While I understand the challenges inherent in grandfathering, I implore you to at least give parents of rising fifth-graders the option to stay at their current school if they are willing to provide their own transportation to and from that school. Here again, I can’t see any downside to the school system if parents are willing to assume the time and expense of handling the transportation piece. My own rising fifth grader is very passionate in her desire to finish out her elementary school time at Prospect Mill, and it would be worth it to me to figure out transportation in order to afford her that opportunity.
Thank you again for your consideration.
Currently, this development (Deer Run) is NOT the only group of students who attend Hickory and then attend BAMS and BAHS, so apparently you need to do a bit more research. You have apparently been attending an elementary school where the children have only fed into one middle school? This is not the case in several elementary schools. This is not even close to being a legitimate reason for your development to swap places with children currently attending Hickory. Are you that afraid of Bel Air Elementary? Or are you more afraid of being sent to BAMS? My child currently attends Hickory, but we will be redistricted out of the school next year. My other child attends BAMS. Both are smart,talented, well adjusted children. Any child in Harford County would be lucky to attend these schools. Didn’t your development fight being moved to Hickory a few years ago? Most people are fighting to stay at their current schools. Do the people of Deer Run know that you are trying to remove them from their school for YOUR comfort and convenience?
I’m not sure how I can see this as being a “a clear win-win situation for both communities.” One clear element you are leaving out is that the students from Deer Run/Deer Manor are already attending Hickory. They already have formed bonds with teachers and other students. Their parents have already volunteered countless hours at events and PTA meetings. The families have raised countless dollars in fundraising money for Hickory.
My understanding was the BOE was looking to move the least amount of students possible. I don’t see why students who already attend Hickory should be uprooted and moved to Bel Air Elementary because you don’t think your community should have to. If you are coming from Prospect Mill, and the BOE has identified your neighborhoods numbers as being enough to relieve the overcrowding with a switch to Bel Air, why should a second group of students be shuffled?
What exactly is wrong with Bel Air Elementary? I don’t have a problem with my kids being moved to Bel Air Elementary for the school itself. I have a problem with the assumption that it makes more sense to move them because of the middle and high schools they feed into and the bus making a turn. When the boundaries were drawn a few years ago and our middle and high school were changed to Bel Air, no one took issue with our elementary school not feeding to the same middle and high school as the others. There is no law stating a bus can’t make a left hand turn. And the bus turning isn’t what keeps me up at night.
It’s trying to explain to my 6 year old with ADHD and attachment concerns that he can’t go back to Hickory next year because someone decided rather than let his bus make a left turn, we should uproot everything he finds safe and secure.