The following is the text of public comments made to the Harford County Board of Education on November 22, 2010. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
My name is Chris Beauchamp, and I am here along with many of my neighbors and friends representing the community of Glenwood Country Club Park, located on Rt. 924 directly across the street from Ring Factory Elementary School.
The issue of elementary school redistricting has no doubt become a hot topic in Harford County since the STAC group presented its DRAFT plan two weeks ago. It’s an emotionally charged issue, and no doubt families and communities across the County are concerned how this proposal will affect them. We understand their concerns.
We also understand and appreciate the very difficult task the County faces trying to alleviate overcrowding in Harford County elementary schools. There is no perfect solution.
Since the DRAFT plan was presented, our community has analyzed the plan in depth – as a group and individually. Glenwood, currently part of the Ring Factory Elementary school district, has been slated to be redistricted to the Homestead Wakefield district.
We are deeply concerned that this DRAFT plan has failed to meet several important parameters recommended to STAC by the regional focus groups. Among the parameters not met are:
1. Keeping neighborhoods and developments together
2. Attending the school closest to the community
3. Minimizing time on bus routes
4. Minimizing total miles buses travel
5. Avoiding “small pockets” of students from one elementary school feeding into a different middle school than the rest of their classmates
You see, our community’s distance to Ring Factory isn’t measured in miles, half miles, or quarter miles. It’s measured in feet – 35 feet to be specific. In fact, we are on the opposite side of RFE from Homestead Wakefield, which makes for an illogical, inefficient and costly transportation dilemma.
We’re talking about 31 affected students in Glenwood. And from all our research on the data that has been made available, these students can remain at RFE while keeping the school under-capacity.
In the coming weeks, and at every opportunity possible, our community will outline many reasons why Glenwood, which is located directly across the street from Ring Factory Elementary, should remain part of that school district. More importantly, we will make several logical, concrete proposals to STAC, the Superintendant, and the Board of Education to remedy a situation for which we see alternative solutions.
In the process of communicating this redistricting plan, everyone involved (STAC, the HCPS communications team, and other administration officials) have all stressed that this is, in fact, just a DRAFT.
Our request of the Board of Education tonight is that you see to it that when and where an oversight has been made, and there is an acceptable alternative solution, that solution is seriously considered and changes can be made prior to the Superintendant and School Board signing off on this redistricting plan. It would be a terrible mistake for the input and involvement of communities not to be heavily weighed prior to adopting this plan.
Again, we know that families and communities across the County have concerns about this plan. Our set of unique circumstances is specific to our community. And we are confident that all the parties involved in this process will agree once our community has been heard.
Please listen to communities, hear our concerns, and commit to revising this DRAFT redistricting plan.