Friday, April 06, 2007

Redistricting - Someone is Going to Be Upset

From my experience on the Board, no matter where you draw the redistricting lines, someone, or a group of someone's, will not be happy.

The redistricting proposals and recommendations (links below) for Neal Elementary are an item of contention for a group of parents living on Hawkins Gate Road. The next Public Forum will take place on Thursday, April 19th at Thomas Stone High School 7:00 pm. The Board is set to discuss at it's next work session on April 23 at 7:00 pm, which also includes a public forum prior to the start of the meeting.

The BayNet wrote an article on this subject on Wednesday.

In addition to all the objections received via email, fifteen speakers from those three neighborhoods spent an hour making certain that Superintendent James Richmond understood why they didn’t want to leave their current school district. To Richmond’s credit, participators told The Bay Net they felt like the school administrators were actually listening.

The McConnell family summed up a number of points the objectors have in common. They are concerned about the safety of the main road to the school with all the construction traffic in that area. They love the quality of education at Matula Elementary; some of the affected families recently moved to their La Plata homes specifically to attend Matula Elementary.


Anonymous said...

A real issue that happens every year, regardles of redistricting, is that there are varying degrees of dicomfort as students enter 6th and 9th grade. One of the main influences is whether they are changing schools as part of the majority OR are they on the outer perimeter of the districting boundaries and part of a small splinter group? If part of a small group of a few students, the schools treat these students as "loners" since they don't have many friends. I don't know if the problem lies at the administration level or teacher level - bottom line: the students suffer.

I would recommend that the schools identify and provide some mechanisms to ease the students in the smaller streams into their new school when shifting from Elementary to Middle, or Middle to Elementary. At the very least the schools need to be aware that some students are "loners" because they are surrounded by other students they never met before. Easing the transition in this manner may help in reducing some of the resistance to redistricting.

Jennifer Abell said...

I must say I wasn't aware that this was an issue. I've had three of my children go through middle school and another that will be going in a couple of years. However, we live in LaPlata and they attended a LaPlata middle school with everyone else in the neighborhood. I assume you are talking about the small blocks of neighborhoods that are stuck in "pockets" and sent to an out-of-area school? If so, I can see where this might be an issue, but once again, one I haven't thought of.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how to make this transition easier for these students?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you grasped the problem. It is the small pocket neighborhoods which go to out-of-area schools.

In terms of solutions that could be provided by the schools, one that jumps to mind is a get-together at the school limited to those splinter streams of students. Although this may be perceived as elitist, it does increase the likelihood that the "loner" students may be able to pair up such that there is some peer comfort as they enter the new school environment.

As parents, we try to get our children engaged in outside school activities so they may have some familiar faces. Any augmentation of these efforts by the schools would be greatly appreciated. It's stressful enough of a change without the comfort of your friends not to mention the misperception of the school staff that the children are loners. Something as simple as sensitizing the teachers which students fall into this category so they may be able to smooth the transition in the first couple of weeks would be helpful.

Thanks for your help and interest.

BTW: This blog is a great idea despite the limited but vocal negative outcry it has received.

Jennifer Abell said...

I will mention the idea of a school gathering for the pocket neighborhoods to my fellow board members. Thanks for the suggestions and the support.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong if parents in La Plata want their children going to La Plata schools? What if the school is 95 percent white? Please explain to me why that is a bad thing...

These hard-working parents moved to La Plata due to the neighborhoods, to the quality of the schools, due to the lack of violence in the schools in their communities.

I believe this "arm twisting" of parents is a huge reason why so many people are moving out of the county. Sure, there are many people moving in, but we all know that many of these people are troublemakers from PG County.

I believe that the people that voted to force Hawkins Gate students out of their community schools are simply exercising their
"politically correct arms" and pandering to the people that are destroying our school system.