Ready or not, elementary school redistricting is coming to Harford County Public Schools. At a September 27, 2010 school board meeting in Bel Air, Chief of Administration Joe Licata gave an update on plans to move students into the new Red Pump Elementary School and to relieve elementary school overcrowding across the county.
Proposed changes to elementary attendance areas are in the works and will be made public sometime in November or December, after feedback is gathered from focus groups at each elementary school.
In addition to filling Red Pump, the goals of redistricting are to relieve overcrowding at Prospect Mill and nearby elementary schools; to relieve overcrowding at Emmorton Elementary, and to reduce enrollment to 90 – 95% of capacity at the remaining public elementary schools in the county.
Prospect Mill and Emmorton are the most overcrowded of the 32 Harford County public elementary schools, operating at approximately 134% and 128% of capacity, respectively.
Without providing specifics, Licata said that some students currently at Emmorton ES may be moved further south. He also said that Youth’s Benefit ES in Fallston will need relief due to the deferral of that school’s modernization.
Additional capacity will come from 696 seats at the planned Red Pump Elementary in Bel Air, and from 216 added seats in the newly modernized Deerfield Elementary in Edgewood, Licata said.
Past redistricting efforts have generated heated public debate, when parents and other property owners have objected to changes in their assigned school attendance areas. Licata stressed that middle and high school attendance areas will not change, regardless of changes at the elementary level.
Once the elementary redistricting proposal is made public, and after a series of public hearings, the Harford County Board of Education will vote to finalize the redistricting plan. The redistricting vote will come on or before March 1, 2011, in time for the opening of Red Pump Elementary School the following August.
For more information about the redistricting process, go to www.hcps.org and click on “Elementary Redistricting”.
Here we go again – Can’t you just hear and see it now – Angry parents from the Abingdon area – “You’re shipping my kids to Deerfield (Edgewood)- over my dead body.” Harford county – where the fun never stops.
actually there are several schools between emmorton and deerfield. Abigdon and William paca/Old Post Road are just two.
I’d be surprised if anyone gets up off their Laz-y-boy and shows up for any meeting of any kind.
i think their was some heat from Fallston parents when they thought thier kids were going to end up at Bel Air, or Joppatowne, or Edgewood. So if any Bel Air, Abingdon area kids get zoned into Deerfield I think you’ll see those Lazy Boys vacated pretty quickly.
Col. J. D. Shellnut says
Edgewood schools are as good as, or better than the rest.
Thank you Col. J. D., but the uninformed rarely make an effort to look at the data, when it so easy to regurgitate false information. Yes! please take your kids elsewhere don’t come to Deerfield or EHS, more student to teacher ratio at the new Deerfield and EHS. Keep moving on folks…nothing to see here!
Edegwood Area Teacher says
My students come with many challenges,the main one being that they are already a year or more behind, however once they step foot in my classroom the data proves they are making more than a year and a half growth. Now with my class down to 13, I know those gains will become even greater…Edgewood Schools have THE best teachers
Edegwood Area Teacher:
I am pleased to see you are such a superb teacher. My question would be why do these students come to your class more than a year behind? Your 13 to 1 student to teacher ratio is also quite unusual. What type of class and grade level do you teach? Is this a remedial or extra support class? How many IEP’s and 504 plans in your class? A bit more information to quantify/qualify your gains please.
Edegwood Area Teacher says
Research regarding students in poverty has shown that students for many different factors enter school 1 1/2 to 2 years (google Ruby Pain for more information) behind in reading and math. I teach a tested (MSA) grade level. I currently have have no students with academic IEPs or 504 plans. Though in the pass I have had my share.
Numberous interventions throughout the school day and after school combined with best practices are what will move my students this year far and fast. I can’t go wrong with such an amazingly small class. In the past I have had anywhere from 20-23.
Having lived through the Patterson Mill redistricting: You can go to meetings (I did), you can speak politely and make a case (I did), but at the end of the day HCPS will do what they want. It would be really nice if the new Elementary boundaries lines up with the secondary boundries. That way all the students in an elementary school will go to the same Middle School. Right now Homestead-wakefield students go to 3 different middle schools.
Hey Cindy, I remember during the last redistricting that they decided anyone who goes to X middle school will also go to X High School. I can’t remember if they said the same thing about elementary schools. Do you know if each elementary schools will feed into one middle school, or will they continue to split elementary schools? Thanks!
Cindy Mumby says
Hey Sandy – It’s a little hard to answer that question before the elementary redistricting plan is finalized. Here’s why:
Middle and high school assignments will not change. So, if your home address is districted to, let’s just say, Bel Air Middle and High, it will stay that way even if your student is redistricted to an elementary school that “fed” into a middle and high school other than Bel Air in the past. That could create a split feeder out of a school that used to send all of its kids to the same secondary school.
Of course it could work the other way around, too. Elementary schools that were split feeders could have their attendance areas changed so that all of their students live in the same attendance area for middle and high school, creating a direct feeder out of an elementary school that used to be split.
That’s my understanding of how it could play out, but I will also double-check and let you know if I hear differently. There are also focus groups at each elementary school that may be advocating to reduce split feeders whenever possible. Plus, there are always the public hearings where these issues can be raised.
Thanks Cindy, I am hoping they will eliminate the split feeders, that would be better for the kids. And I know they keep saying they are only redistricting at the elementary school level but I just can’t believe they are going to leave Edgewood High, at a larger capacity and a brand new building, with so few students. That makes no sense at all, especially with Patterson Mill being over capacity. And I still don’t understand the logic, or lack of logic, of why all Homestead/Wakefield students don’t all attend Bel Air Middle and High, but we have been there, done that! Let’s all hope a new superintendent and new faces on the BOE will fix some of the past illogical decisions.
Well since Dick Sltuzsky and his BS (Boniface/Slutzsky) report caused this . He should be the one to redistrict. After all he knows EVERYTHING about the school system.
How many kids live in a 1 – 2 mile radius of Campus Hills and where that school was going? What about the overcrowding at Youth Benefit? I have drive on Route 22 several times recently and the traffic on 22 around 8:45 is backed up past Tudor Lane!
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were serious water/sewer issues at that site too. Many of the kids who attend Prospect Mill live as close or closer to other elementary schools. I know kids who could easily attend Homestead Wakefield and go to Prospect Mill. Why do people who live past Bel Air Athletic Club on Tollgate Road go to Homestead Wakefield? Speaking of which, many houses going up at Tollgate and Ring Factory. So much for the APF law…
Redistricting has always been a recurring problem. One might suggest that this is what happens when people don’t pay attention to the zoning that occurs allowing high density housing to be built without regard to existing infrastructure. Inevitably, this county permits development wherever developers want. It’s all in the campaign financing and has little, or nothing at all, to do with common sense from our politicians. No school should be allowed to exceed 95% without the Board of Ed and County Council looking at funding an addition to the school. Expensive portable classrooms should not be an option. No teacher should have to hunt for a classroom to use. Citizens should not buy a home in one area and have their kids bussed to another. Parents should not have to drive their kids to school because of bus overcrowding, unruly behaviour or unnecessarily long bus rides.
None of our schools are really that bad if there is a desire to learn. It’s not where the school is located or how glitsy it appears. Schools need to be properly maintained, which many are not. We need good teachers, caring parents and a spirit of mutual cooperation. We need the parents, teachers and politicians to provide a good example for those kids and act responsibly.
When will all those parents get out of their Lazy Boy and Girl chairs and attend meetings to find solutions in the best interests of their children?
At Patterson Mill Middle the school is close to 115% capacity because of boundary exceptions approved by the school system. Many are for people who work in the school system even though the policy is suppose to limit it to 95%. Dr. Tomback has no problem with it because he has stated so publicly. Here we are trying to get schools down to 100% capacity and the superintendent of the school system is making a problem worse! Maybe so one can explain. The school really can’t handle that type of hallway crowding. It is not designed well at all either.
I hope whomever is on the Board of Education next is willing to deal with these issues because current Board members have checked out.
ron eaton says
My guess is that “focus” groups will be hand picked by the respective principals to minimize confrontation with the Super’s plan. I can tell you that when I was on the board, parents participating in any redistricting efforts were usually recommended by PTAs and approved by the board, not the staff for obvious reasons. Parents developed and presented the plan.
It appears to me that Board members have maintained distance on this controversial matter. Any plan should be developed by parents. The Board should have appointed a parent based committee to develop the plan. Staff assistance for data is appropriate, but they do not have vote.
One could ask, how we did we get to this point? Five and ten year enrollment projections are made based on birth rates, building permits; etc. A long view is required to ensure capacity. State dollars are required for construction, so they have a say in it as well. That is where the senators and delegates from Harford County weigh in. A factor that cannot be accurately predicted is the economy. Clearly it has slowed home building which is an important variable in capacity (new or existing). When it turns around we may be faced with an under capacity problem similar to the one that existed in the late 80s and early 90s.
Redistricting is a difficult and controversial task that must involve the Board from the beginning. They cannot set back in their lazy boys. I cannot be convinced they have asked the hard questions on this.
My argument at this point goes to process. It excluded the most important participant (THE PARENTS)in the beginning. That is just wrong!
Parent involvement in redistricting or any other policy affecting students must be encouraged, embraced, and facilitated. That starts at the Board level!
Bonny K says
I agree Ron. The parents need to be a part of the process from beginning to end. I feel very manipulated as a parent.
Success in school is more than just numbers and statistics.
We are part of a community within our school.
We have spent a lot of time volunteering and raisng money wiht fundraisers to improve our school over the years.
I will be extremely disappointed if my child is not able reap the benefits of all of our efforts, i.e having access to smart boards, lap top computers, new books and P.E. equipment, field trips and in school assemblies.
There is the problem. When you have a school that is overcrowdedsomeone must go. everyone says not me. Maybe your new school might have those things. Maybe you can help get those things. Being an active PTA participate does not garuntee you will never be redistricted.
Voicing My Thoughts says
I think it is absolutely ABSURD that HCPS teachers can choose any school they want their children to attend and it is ok, just because they teach there…especially when some of these teachers work in the schools they don’t want their own children to attend!! Why is this ok?! Especially when the said schools are over-crowded, like Patterson Mill…I bought my house for that school district and think HCPS teachers should have to follow the same districting rules as everyone else!
Open Minded Dem says
Why? Because teachers get so many extra perks? I think if a teacher commits the time (and low salary) to teaching, they should be able to benefit, if they choose, to have their own children attend the school where they teach.
Steve Joyce says
Terrific salary and benefits that teachers receive thank the taxpayer, preferential treatment over other parents be damned.
Open Minded Dem says
You are insane and clearly don’t have children. Thank God you’re not breeding.
Steve Joyce says
Open Minded Dem
I have children an I am an unemployed professional. I don’t have a sacred and sanctified job protected by the state and union.
You are about as open minded as pile of steaming horse pucky.
Open Minded Dem says
Perhaps it’s time for you to look into another line of work? I simply take issue with the notion that teachers should not be able to exercise the ability to have their children attend school where they teach. I am not a teacher or a member of any union (and am tired of people bitching about unions). But teachers historically get the short end of the stick in terms of low pay, crazy parents who won’t take any personal responsibility for their kids, lack of resources, etc.
When you were an employed professional, I’m sure there were perks of your job that you loved that other people may not have had access to. Comes with the territory. Just like HCSD deputies get a take home vehicle, or someone from McDonald’s gets to eat for free or someone at Kohl’s may get an employee discount.
Maybe you are unemployed because you use terms like ‘horse pucky.’
Steve Joyce says
Firstly, I use terms like “horse pucky” when I smell it.
Secondly, I am an accomplished economist with a PHD, should I work as a Walmart greeter until things improve, meanwhile teachers complain about secure jobs with unbelievable benefits?
Steve if you are unemployed I feel for you but to answer your question, Yes you should take whatever job until the economy imporves. Something is better then nothing.
Open Minded Dem says
Sorry “Dr.” Joyce. But now you sound more like a bitter elitist fool than someone we should pity. Time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start providing for your family instead of whining about what teachers get.
Tomorrow is the first day to wear your big boy pants.
Steve Joyce says
Open Minded Dem
You are a pathetic wretch.
Open Minded Dem says
For someone with so much education, I would expect some better insults. PhD. my ass.
Steve Joyce says
Open Minded Dem
Sorry to disappoint you, after you take your head out of your butt maybe you should ask your mom again why she doesn’t love you?
Open Minded Dem says
And mature, too! Please, please tell me what institution of higher learning give you your doctorate? I’m dying to know. And need to figure out where NOT to send my kids.
And she doesn’t love me because she’s a miserable drunk. Probably like your wife.
Open Minded Dem!
Excellent. Right on!
Redistricting is not a recurring problem – the politicians and the board of education have avoided it except when a new school has opened. Per the 2009/2010 enrollment capacity report the projections for the 2010/2011 school have the total elementary capacity with an excess of 1051 seats across the county. They should not be wasting tax payer dollars on a new school. Comprehensive redistricting should have happened long ago to balance enrollment/capacity.
Here are some shocking numbers regarding capacity projections for the 2010/11 school year from the 2009/10 report:
Halls Crossroads 69%
Havre de Grace 70%
North Bend 71%
Roye Williams 54%
So if we are going to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for a new school to handle overcrowding in one area how about they consider closing some of the above schools to save some of our taxpayer dollars while they are at it or force growth to those areas regardless of the master land use plan because it appears that the infrastructure is in place(except Darlington, Norrisville and North Bend) in these areas not only for schools but roads as well (95 and rt 40)
to be fair they are building lots of new houses in the joppatowne attendance boundary
It's all in the numbers says
The comment about Prospect Mill being at 134% capacity, does this number take into account that their fifth grade is currently located in Southampton Middle School? Someone commented on overcrowding causing teachers to have to hunt for classrooms to work in, well the fifth grade currently takes up eight classrooms at Southampton.
Cindy Mumby says
it’s all in the numbers – yes, the 134% enrollment figure for Prospect Mill includes the fifth grade students currently housed at Southampton MS. That figure and the 128% figure for Emmorton are based on enrollment as of September 30,2009 (the latest published figures)
All school enrollments will be updated soon for the 2010-11 school year, but I’m told that overall elementary enrollment in HCPS looks like it will be down slightly vs. 2009.
As a family member of a fifth and second grade teacher at PMES, I can attest that the SMS situation is better than the portables, but still not ideal. The biggest concern prompting the move to SMS was student safety due to the overcrowding. Previously housing the fifth grade class in “portable city” while trying to comply with the lock down rules and shuttling them between specials at the main school building was creating a severe burden and a rightful cause of concern.
Even at SMS, the fifth grade is segregated to a section of the building and are not allowed contact with the 6 – 8th grade. While safer, this situation has created a great deal of stress for students and staff trying to maintain separation and a learning environment. Imagine being 10 y/o and being thrust into a school environment with kids twice your size.
So, it is more than being ‘about the numbers.’ PMES has been the model of overcrowding at the elementary school level for several years now, regardless of where the students are being housed. The administrative burden has only increased by moving the fifth grade. There is no magic bullet solution. Both redistricting (hated by parents) and new schools in the crowded areas (hated by tax payers) are being utilized. It’s not pretty, but those are the options.
Mark, I agree with the safety issue of the portables and am thankful that at PMES they had the common sense to use the portables for the 5th grade students. At Forest Lakes, the 2nd graders were housed in portables. That was when my now college freshman was in 2nd grade. The principal insisted that all doors to the school remain locked, except for the front door, nearest to the office. The portables were in the back of the school, they couldn’t even be seen from the road! Anyone could have grabbed a child and no one would have seen them, it was scary. So scary that we put together a group of parent volunteers, against the principal’s wishes, to take turns standing outside at certain times of the day to help keep the kids safe. If a child needed to use the bathroom, they would send them in pairs, which is what we asked for. However, the 2nd child was only allowed to walk the student to the door and then return to the portable. So that child walked from the school to the portable alone. Then when the 1st child returned from the bathroom, that child walked from the school to the portable alone. And remember, these were 2nd graders! Most of the time they couldn’t get the door opened with the key they were given, so they were out for an extended period of time trying to get into the school! It was complete nonsense. By the time my daughter was in 5th grade they had come to their senses and used the portables for 5th grade. Still not ideal, but the best option at the time. I don’t know who is housed in the portables there now.
Bob Frisch says
The following was posted by David Trippenworth to the Editorial Cartoon: Play the Elementary School Redistricting Shell Game! I thought it was very interesting and worth repeating to stimulate others to think about their own views on the matter.
David Trippenworth says:
October 4, 2010 at 7:59 am
I wonder when we’ll start getting parents giving campaign contributions to School Board candidates in order to get their kids boundary exceptions the same way we get developers and land owners giving County Councilmen campaign contributions to get their zoning changed.
Bob Frisch says:
October 10, 2010 at 8:00 am
A very perceptive thought. The only thing you can do at this point is to thoroughly investigate the candidates. Look closely at their professional credentials (unfortunately many inflate material on their resumes) which can be researched in most any internet search engine. What are their positions, what would they try to accomplish if elected.
More importantly, find out who they are as real people. This will give you a more accurate assessment of how they will govern if elected. Fortunately this too can be researched if you know where to look. With Board of Education members having so much influence over the lives of our children and nearly a half billion dollar budget I would start looking for potential criminal and civil litigation histories.
We need to elect people to the school board that have the training, skills, experience, commitment, and also the integrity (which you allude to in your comment) to do the right thing when it comes to making the many critical decisions school board members will have to make. The future of Harford County children is at stake. The choice will be yours. Please choose wisely because we only have one chance to get it right.
Board of Education candidate
District A (Edgewood, Joppatowne, Joppa communities)
Thomas Jefferson said (paraphrased) that if a people wish to remain ignorant and free at the same time, they are wishing for something that never was and never will be. We can’t get people to investigate candidates for most of our elected offices now, let alone BOE candidates. But the majority are pleased that we are going to a mostly elected BOE. I believe in democracy, but not democracy for everything. How can I make an intelligent decision on judges for the Maryland Court of Special Appeals? What is a Register of Wills going to say that is going to make me choose him/her? Frankly, the candidates running for the BOE are going to learn what their job entails. It won’t be as quick or easy as they think. They will find out how many unfunded mandates the state and federal government will be handing them, how different neighborhoods are going to react to their unbiased redistricting, how difficult it is to get the needed funds from other politicians, how laws passed in Annapolis are going to require them to do things. In short, they are going to find out quickly, how little they know, and how little power they really have. In many states where elected school boards exist, they also have the power to tax. How far do we want to take school board democracy. I hope the elected board will make decisions for the right reasons. Much like an umpire in a game, we may not agree with him, but he is making a decision that he thinks is fair to the game. If you ask the players, would we get that kind of decision? I believe the appointed boards did do this and I am worried about elected decision makers for the school system. That worry is based on what I see in politics. I do not want our children to be pawns.
You think redistricting is fun now, wait until more elected BOE members are in place. Yeah, it’s like voting for judges in Maryland’s higher courts. Do we really know, or is it democracy out of control? Redistricting is always the same, move anyone, but not my child. Won’t this be fun when the Board gets more elected politicians who care only about their areas?
Or even selcted parts of their areas. It will be even more fun when certian populations get shifted to schools they view as less desirable.
My son was redistricted. I didn’t like it and fought it. But guess what, there was no social scare. As a matter of fact, he just has more friends and adjusts to where he is going. Still plays sports and with the kids who did not get redistricted. Believe it or not, I saw someone who wants to bring in a child psychologist to make a case that the kids will be ruined for life. Give me a break. Make whatever valid argument that you want but someone has to move and as long as it someone else, it’s OK. Or the other option, is just let the parents pick whatever school they want.
Project Analysis says
Has anyone ever taken into consideration that maybe parents are more concerned about themselves then the kids. Yes the parents have claimed to be arguing in the interest of the child but I have done my research. So far my research has shown similiar arguing toward redistricting. Following the actual event however, parents realize that they were making a big deal out of nothing. The kids will readjust; they always do. It is just like getting up and moving only you get to keep your house. The kids will readjust. The parents should just accept the unevitable and stop complaining just because this move might create a little more work on their part.