The following letter was sent by Meredith Parkinson to the Harford County Board of Education and the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee. A copy was provided to The Dagger.
Dear Members of the Board and STAC Committee Members,
I have spoken and written to you on several occasions in regards to the redistricting. I first want to say that I applaud you for taking community feedback into consideration when revising the proposed redistricting. I was very pleased to read that the “Stop the Swap” was reversed as well as the buses that would have to cross at High Point Road and Rt. 23.
I am writing to you regarding the YBES school district. I wish to state that I still hold the belief that this district should be undisturbed, and that the definition of “overcrowding” does not apply here – test scores and thriving students speak nothing but a tribute to the schools’ glowing success. If, however, redistricting of YBES will move forward, I wish to submit my alternative plan. I have driven the bus routes in Fallston, and mapped out my alternatives in the document attached. I will present it at the meeting next Wednesday at Fallston High School, but I wanted to submit it by e-mail as well.
I have suggested four tiers of redistricting, each more intense then the last. Please review my plan, I have spent countless hours on it.
Thank you for your time!
It does not go unnoticed that Ms. Parkinson’s suggestions only serve to preserve the northern end of the YBES district from redistricting while sacrificing the southern end to other es districts.
Does Abingdon ES have room for the kids she suggests and what is the new population of YBES?
Self-centered Ms. Parkinson….your plan only benifits you. Move all the other children except your own. If you don’t like it MOVE.
Meredith Parkinson says
I’m sorry, but I did not have a breakdown of children per development to go off of, I drew these lines based off of logical bus routes.
I agree that adding numbers to this proposal would strengthen it. When looking at most of the other county proposals that SATC accepted, they were focused on numbers and data. What will the final YBES and Abingdon percentages look like? Additionally, will it leave Jarrettsville under-populated? These are going to be the big questions STAC has. They have made it clear that bus routes and travel time was already within reason (as far as they were concerned). Lastly, moving a small pocket to Abingdon will leave a handful of children moving to Fallston Middle on their own. We have seen this concern spring up in other areas, and I am concerned that this creates the same issue.
Meredith Parkinson says
How is the Northern end preserved, I have redistricting occuring at both ends??
WHen I read your plan Teir 2 and 4 get sent to ABingdon which I believe would over crowd that school. Where do you send teir 3 and 1? Since you do not specify I assume they remain at YBES. So I asked what do the numbers look like after your plan? If 2 and 4 can go to Abingdon and not over crowd it and keep 1 and 3 it is a viable option but I would surmize this is not the case.
This appears to be a sound plan. Clearly, tiers 1 & 3 would be redistricted to Jarrettsville.
Meredith Parkinson says
CDEV – I have gone back and labeled my visual better, tier 1 & 3 would be going to Jarrettsville and tier 2 & 4 would be going to Abingdon. Any move to Abingdon might not work out anyway, because the revision to the redistricting that came out last week changed Abingdon’s enrollment to 93.9% and with this school being located within the development envelope, I do not think the BOE would feel that it is wise to raise that number any higher. But since YBES is only projected at 107% instead of 117% as originally noted, I feel the BOE is likely to drop the viewpoint that 150 students need to be moved, hopefull down to 80-90. This is just such a huge transition, I cannot imagine that they would move so many students unnecessarily.
Your initial map clearly labeled #1 as going to YBES, #3 had no specific designation but nothing indicated a move to Jarrettsville ES. For someone that put so many hours and effort into developing such a detailed plan I find it hard to believe this was an accidental oversight. You have been called to task are are now trying to backtrack.
Meredith Parkinson says
I believe that your comments are only to the bottom line, and not to my letter as a whole. I do not feel that ANY children should be redistricted within YBES. I can only comment on YBES because I am not informed enough to speak for in regards to any other community. However, we do not live in a world were ideals are met, and a realistic alternative needed to be suggested. As I drove the bus routes and made notes on the STAC’s plan, I was saddened to draw a line of my own, since I feel that the school should accomidate the community, not the other way around. I have said before, and I stick by my belief that “100% capacity” is just a number and that children are far more important than meeting a number or saving a buck. The only victory here would be if the redistricting were kept to a minimum.
Marywood: I feel that your comment is hurtful, uninformed and completely unnecessary. If you have anything helpful to provide, please do so, otherwise why are you being insulting?? You don’t know me.
Let’s be honest here…now tell the truth. Would your child be moved to another school or stay at YBES? I thought so! OVERCROWDING does NOT apply here…Pease..what makes YBES so special. What your saying is move children from all the other communities and let their schools be above 100%….BUT..leave YBES alone. I don’t blame you. Any parent that takes all that time to come up with their own redistricting plan would make sure the kids come out ok. So lets call a spade a spade.
Meredith Parkinson says
Marywood – you keep making this personal, either the STAC plan or my plan would negatively impact my family directly, and I don’t wish to elaborate. This is not about me, and never was, this is about the students at YBES and the community that is hurting. I never said that YBES should be the only school left untouched. I would suggest that redistricting occur in two stages: first redistrict to accommodate Red Pump and to alleviate the severe overcrowding at Emmorton, Forest Lakes and Prospect Mill, and in a year or two, re-assess the remaining schools and propose alternatives at that time, if it is needed.
Inasmuch as schools are never centrally located in communities and populations change with development it is not always possible for the school system to serve a specific community as you see it. Rather the school system must consider all communities and the best use of the resources it has at its disposal. Regardless of your intent the result is your plan still attempts to sacrifice one community at the expense of another,
Meredith Parkinson says
J – it sounds like you are saying that since change “must occur” that we should not fight against it, and just embrace the first idea that is presented? The stac plan suggests redistricting 150 students, I am saying that it should at most only have to redistrict 80-90 students. I suggested 4 tiers, each a logical bus route, and I never said to move them all, I hope that they don’t have to move any of them!! These are kids we are talking about, not numbers and they all have equal right to attend their school.
Meredith they are kids but they all have equal rights to attend school period. Their is no law as to which one as long as it offers a free and approrpiate public education.
Meredith Parkinson says
CDEV – Free and Appropriate Education, or FAPE, is to be provided in the “least restrictive environment”. Are you trying to say that it is not restrictive to education to be taken away from a school that you love and are doing well in, to an unfamiliar environment where they know few people, if any. No, school is not a place just to make friends, but the learning style that is most effective is when students interact, work together and then teach the learned task. How do you expect a child that might be socially awkward to just be thrown in to a new situation, as if their family had moved??
Social adjustment and growth is certainly “less restrictive” to an education than being in a facility that is over capacity — understaffed with large class sizes. (regardless of YOUR definition of the word “overcrowded”
Based on your comments you do not understand FAPE and its ramifications. LRE does not address where you feel confortable, but that the services provided are appropriate for the handicap of the child. FAPE simply refers to every childs right to have a Free and appropriate Public Education.
Secondly if 150 students got moved from YBES to Jarrettsville. I would bet that you would know a few of them. Especially when they will make up about 30% of the new school population. Most likely a few teachers will be relocated to so they might even know a few of them.
I have to agree with CDEV. Either you do not understand the definition of FAPE or are intentionally trying to twist the term to justify your own position on redistricting. In either case you miss the intent of the law and cannot make it fit to your purposes.
Indeed change must occur. This problem was in large part created by the BOE not reviewing and adjusting school boundaries on a regular basis – every other year at minimum. As a result school overcrowding is out of hand in some schools and under utilization exists elsewhere. I understand the emotional attachment to schools and that these kinds of connections foster a sense of community pride and cohesiveness but these attitudes cannot stand in the way of what is in the best interest of the entire system. This is why the county owns the schools and not individual communities which change over time. Change is difficult and this degree of change could have been avoided. Lets hope the BOE has learned from this experience and will modify their policies accordingly.
You’re redistricting woes aren’t going to go away. The real villains here are the developers that swoop in, snatch up the land from some poor failing farmer who can’t make it work anymore for a couple grand an acre. He then clear cuts it down to dirt killing every living thing in sight to allow it to be carved up into as many little pieces as the county will let him get away with. Once his hundreds of homes are done, he walks away with his pockets stuffed with money. In his wake are the hundreds of extra cars commuting every morning, the 2.3 kids per household that have to go to school. And when the locals finally get their “representatives” to pull their faces out of the trough the developer was keeping full they come up with the brilliant revelation that roads and schools are inadequate to the needs of the community. I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for that to change. Do you think Mr. Stuffed Pockets would care if little Johnny had to ride a bus 5 hours a day?
I agree ! I do believe a lot has to do w/ the developers ! Money money money, Show me the Money !
Meredith Parkinson says
J – Tier one was worded for where the boundry of YBES was. Going down Kings Arm, then Hess road before returning to YBES. I should have clearly stated that the section north of Hess Road and Kings Arm would be Jarrettsville, but that correction has been made. Nothing changed.
I think there are some major glaring flaws in this map:
1) It looks as though she switched a high density area with a low density area. I don’t believe this map would redistrict the number of students needed to lower YBES’s numbers below 100% capacity.
2) Abingdon is already at capacity. There is no room there to redistricting YBES students too. This is also the case for Joppatowne, Riverside, Emmorton, Homestead/Wakefield, and Red Pump. What school are the students in the south supposed to be moved to, Jarrettsville?
And I’ve got some questions:
1) Who is going to support this besides the people from her neighborhood? It seems as though she just used the old redistricting plan and cut around her neighborhood. The people who are still affected in the north won’t and the people being targeted in the south won’t.
2) Given the option, does she believe it’s better for the kids who are going to be redistricted to be split-up among multi-schools or go as a group to just one school?
Dan and J ….good points. Bottom line is each parents plan will keep them where they are and throw all others to the wolves. She never answered my question about her children.Wher would they go Meredith? NEGATIVLY Impact YOUR family. We would love for you to elaborate on that. This isn’t just about you. My children were both moved. I didn’t protest and cry like the babies in Forest Lakes. Some of the parents at those meetings were almost in tears…lol. Now when i run into them. They all say the same thing. It’s been great at BelAir High. It’s amazing how quickly children adapt and make new friends. FUNNY…seems to bother the parents more than the kids!!!
Good point I remember HS redistricting and people acting like it would divide their family because one child was a graduate of Fallston and one of Bel Air. Also remember if a group of people get redistricted together there is a good chance your friends will be among them. Even if they are not they will make new friends.
Changing schools isn’t all about making friends. To ignore the fact that schools are not equal is just ridiculous. My son went to Bel Air and my daughter went to Patterson Mill and was in the first graduating class. It was not an easy transition and was made more difficult by people who said the kids should just suck it up and be happy. It was equally difficult for the kids who were at Bel Air. Patterson Mill didn’t have anywhere near the class offerings that Bel Air has including many of the AP classes. The class sizes at Patterson Mill are the biggest in the county too whereas Fallston High by far has the lowest class sizes.
I feel very bad for parents whose kids have to move and the kids are upset. All kids are not resilient and do not adjust appropriately even with the encouragement and support of their parents.
I might tend to agree with you but in the case of YBES v Jarrettsville. I would venture to say they are pretty equal. I think what scares some people, although no one says it, is that YBES has a very large foundation of money that is spent on kids. What I think this population does not realize is that Jarrettsville has a very active PTA too. If you where talking about a school like YBES v a school with a non existant PTA or one where the Teachers do the bulk of the PTA work I would understand but in this case we are not. Comparable test scores and Jarrettsville has plenty of unused physical plant. No more temporary classrooms etc.
Marywood – I believe the reason you have not received a response from Ms. Parkinson is because her children are not yet in elementary school. It is my understanding that she has two pre-school age children, which makes it all the easier to shift other people’s children who are already there. She doesn’t have to face them at school. Ms. Parkinson, please correct me if I am wrong.
Well,Well,Well…the truth comes out. Thanks Ann
She kept avoiding my question. Not surprised.I’ve lived up here 20 yrs. and have seen redistricting many times.They complain of overcrowding, then when new schools are built,no one wants to move. HaHa. I have 2 nephews at North Harford, 1 nephew at Patterson Mill and a daughter at BelAir. All got excepted into the college of their choice.
All the schools in this area are fine schools.
It’s a little tougher for middle and high school children when they have to switch schools. But to raise such a fuss when your children haven’t even started Elementary school is a joke. American way…look out for yourself, screw everyone else.
It’s very nice that they made an exception for your family to get onto college. Are you a product of HCPS?
That’s just plain ignorant.
I don’t understand the distain Mrs. Parkinson is receiving. She has every right to voice her opinion. Honestly, My children were in the “swap” area and parents are just as passionate, even though both schools are wonderful. I think people need to get over the whole “Fallston” thing and realize that A LOT of parents don’t want their children to change schools if there is another option.
There is a difference. In your case you where being redistricted to send the same number of kids back. You had a numbers driven arguement that made sense. In her case she is shifting people in a manner that will over crowd another elementary school.
NO Dollywood…i went to an inner city school and moved to BelAir 21yrs. ago. Della…..my children have been moved 3 times over the years. We were not happy about it. But understood that as the population grew….new schools and redistricting would take place. What ticked me off avout Mrs. Parkinson’s letter was OVERCROWDING DOESN’T APPLY HERE.
What makes the children at YBES any better than the ones from Aberdeen,Joppa,darlington,Hickory and so on
By stating “overcrowding doesn’t apply here” she clearly did not mean that her school shouldn’t be touched. It seems to me that she is implying that despite the numbers, the students at YBES are doing well and not suffering as one would expect when “overcrowding” is mentioned. Not a reason to get so heated!!
frankly speaking says
my oldest child went to Edgewood Middle, then switched to Bel Air Middle, after that he attended Bel Air High and his sister attended both BAHS and Patterson Mill. Both of them are honor roll college kids and my oldest is about to graduate from NYU with close to a 4.00 gpa and on to law school and a phd program somewhere in the east coast next fall. I don’t really see what school you go to has to do with your own individual accomplishments. By the way, I attended Patterson High School in Baltimore City, class of 82′ and I have completed college with honors and work in a well paid field while attending public school in an area which had seen its best days 20 yrs before I even attended that school.
Kids from HCPS can do anything they want as long as they are dedicated to their schooling and want to get ahead, no matter which school they attend. A high school diploma from Patterson High or Patterson Mill is still a state of Maryland high school diploma.
JL……Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on that statement. Even you sound like your not to sure. In your first sentence you state she CLEARLY did not mean her school….then u state “it seems to me she is implying”. Bottom line is other children are moved. Agree ?
I’m only sure of how I interpret things. My own personal opinion is that one particular area shouldn’t be left alone “just because.” Either way, the discussion should still be civil.