To the Members of the HCPS Board of Education:
The decision on selecting the school location for the placement of the Biomedical Services Magnet Program is on the BOE agenda for June 23, 2008.
In April, 2006, after the redistricting of secondary schools, enrollment projections for the new secondary school attendance areas were presented. When the grandfathering of redistricted students was complete, BAHS was expected to have 1578 students in 2010. The current Sept. 30, 2007 enrollment projections anticipate 1276 BAHS students in 2010. In less than 18 months, HCPS’s enrollment projection for BAHS shrunk by 302 students, or 19%. Where did the students go?
In May, 2006, the Ed Specs for the new BAHS building included space for the Medical Arts Magnet on the third floor. The issue was brought to the Board for a vote as a highly unusual “non-agenda” item, but was stymied because of the questionable availability of seats to house the program, based on the recent post-redistricting projections noted above. All mention of the magnet program interior design had to be removed from the Ed Specs for the building, although the square footage on the third floor remained as general classroom space. And for 2+ years, the subject has been dormant, and the construction of the new building moved along.
What has changed in the last two years? Two years ago, HCPS needed to attempt to maximize their share of state funding for the new BAHS. How do you maximize state construction money? Show lots of students in the school by maximizing future enrollment “projections”. (Of course, it didn’t work. The IAC saw through the projections, and in June 2007 I contact the IAC, and was told that they could only justify funding for 1023 of the 1668 seats planned for the new BAHS). The problem with the large post-redistricting enrollment projections in 2006 was that it worked against the “magnet concept” of needing sufficient open seats in a school to allow placement of a magnet program.
Now that the state funding issue has been resolved for BAHS, the focus has been changed to finding a home for the Biomedical Services magnet. The Sept. 30 2007 enrollment projections appear to be based more on this magnet placement issue than on demographics. Now we suddenly have room for the magnet program at BAHS! Where did those students go?
Even though the final decision on this issue is only 5 days away, as of the writing of this letter the HCPS Public Information Office is unable to tell me which school is being earmarked for the Biomedical Services Magnet, although all indications point to resurrecting BAHS as the Biomedical Services magnet site.
I would hope that before the Biomedical Magnet is voted upon to be placed in the 3rd floor of the new BAHS building, that the members of the BOE would be concerned enough about the enrollment projection numbers to ask the question – where did those projected students go? Is there truly space for the program in the new BAHS building?
Larry T. English