When some schools are overcrowded and other schools have open seats, the solution may seem obvious. But anyone who thinks that redistricting is easy has never gone through the process.
School redistricting is often contentious, as school officials move students around to make better use of taxpayer-funded facilities, and parents object to changes that will separate their children from friends and familiar school communities. The conflicts inherent in redistricting can be minimized by a transparent process, parental involvement, and clear communications.
It is in that spirit that we bring you the first draft of a plan to balance enrollment among the 32 public elementary schools in Harford County, and to fill the new Red Pump Elementary School in Bel Air in time for the start of the 2011-12 school year. The draft was put together by a Harford County Public Schools committee known as the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), after receiving some initial input from parents who served on school-based focus groups. The focus groups will continue to advise STAC and recommend modifications to the draft. A plan will then be approved by Superintendent Robert M. Tomback and presented to the school board for further consideration, sometime in late November or early December.
A final decision on redistricting will not be made until March 1, 2011, and it will come in the form of a vote by the Harford County Board of Education. Allowing for potential modifications to the draft along the way, the plan approved by the superintendent and the school board may be different from the draft below. Between now and then, there will be a variety of opportunities for public input.
First, the draft is posted on the school system’s web site, where an e-mail link is set up for your comments to go directly to HCPS. In addition, public hearings will be held in January and February, and public comments are also accepted at the beginning of any school board business meeting. A board meeting schedule can be found on the school system’s Web site.
Here on The Dagger, your comments are welcome in the interest of providing an opportunity for discussion among all stakeholders.
View and zoom in on the map below:
Answers to Questions about the Redistricting Maps
1. The black outline represents the current district boundary.
2. The solid color areas represent the proposed district. Use the color the school icon is on as the color for the district.
3. Some parcels are colored gray. These are parcel anomalies. This means that no one person owns the parcel. This
includes right-of-ways for highways, utilities, and developments. It also includes parks such as Susquehannock.
4. Maps are oriented to fit the page. In some cases, this means that north is not always the top of the page. Check the compass rose to make sure.
5. The majority of roads are labeled. A few smaller ones may not be if the label overlapped with a main road.
6. Student data (not seen on the map) is from September 15, 2009. This will be updated with the current students (September 15, 2010) within the next few weeks.
7. Parcel data came from the county and is accurate to October 2009. This will be updated when the 2010 student data is used.
8. Class distribution graphs represent the spread of students by grade level. 91 represents Kindergarten and 92 represents pre-K . Pre-K students may attend a different school currently, but live in the district.
9. The map does not account for special programs within the school only the students in the district.
10. A computer did not generate the map. A committee of people from across the county utilized it as a decision making tool.
Each link below will take you to a map presenting the proposed attendance area for each elementary school in greater detail:
Below is the text of an e-mail sent by HCPS to e-mail subscribers upon the release of the draft elementary redistricting plan:
Elementary Redistricting Update
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Dear Elementary School Parents;
A DRAFT of the Proposed Comprehensive Elementary Redistricting Plan has been posted to the school system website for review. The plan can be found on the elementary redistricting page at hcps.org. New attendance area maps for individual schools and the district as a whole were released following five regional meetings that took place with designated Focus Groups for each school that began early this week and concluded this evening. Focus Groups were established last year to provide the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) with parameters for redistricting.
Parents and community members are encouraged to subscribe to the RSS Feed on the redistricting page to receive real-time alerts when content is revised or updated as the redistricting process continues to move forward.
The Harford Cable Network will air the five Focus Group meetings consecutively every Saturday at 8:30 p.m. during the month of December on Comcast Channel 21, Armstrong Channel 7 and Verizon FiOS Channel 31. Video footage of the meetings also will be posted on the school system’s website. The Focus Groups have been charged with taking information back to their respective communities to compile meaningful feedback.
Parents can also direct comments or questions to the elementary redistricting email, firstname.lastname@example.org. The plan is still in draft form and has not yet been presented to the Board of Education. The STAC will consider all feedback and make any necessary changes to the plan before the proposed plan is presented to the Board at the end of the month. Parents are reminded that attendance areas for secondary schools will NOT be affected as a result of the elementary redistricting.
When the Board Members take over the proposed redistricting plan, they will hold regional community meetings and public hearings to gather their own feedback. Those community meetings and hearings will take place in December, January and February. Information will be forthcoming regarding dates, times and locations of those meetings.
Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee (STAC)
For up-to-date information, news and events, visit www.hcps.org.