Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BoE splitting up Hawkins Gate

In an article on the Baynet by Anna Dailey...


Five Hawkins Gate Road parents stood at the lectern last Tuesday in a final effort to convince the Charles County Board of Education (BoE) that including Hawkins Gate Road in the new Neal Elementary district was illogical and unreasonable.

Hawkins Gate resident Gail Jacobs expressed her disillusionment with the BoE. She called attention to the paltry number of her neighbors at the meeting as an indication of their feelings that the board doesn’t care about these children. She explained “[the board's] decisions have disillusioned many [Hawkins Gate] parents."

Read the complete article HERE.

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In addition, Lynwood Jacobs sent a letter to the editor...

Well it's official! The Charles County School Board has declared the Hawkins Gate Road area as now a part of St. Charles and the greater Waldorf area!

Read the complete letter HERE.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the board keeps stating that there are only 27 out of 27,000 kids complaining. It it perhaps because the 27 are the only ones being separated from their community? The Neal school is relocating Waldorf children back to their community. But they are repeating mistakes by splitting a community in La Plata. Didn't Pederson fight the redistricting of her children to La Plata schools and even get a lawyer? Some board members want to spin this issue into something negative about Waldorf. They want to use those bogus angles so that they can distract the negative attention off of them. Plain and simple, all Charles County residents want their children to go to the closest school within their community. For Hawkins Gate, that means Matula.

Jennifer said...

Anonymous,
I agree wholeheartedly. Fortunately my family has not been affected by redistricting but I can sympathize with the families and their relationships with their neighborhood and school communities. In my opinion, my fellow board members are trying to be fair and equitable to all residents. However, I don't believe that allowing exceptions is "unfair" or setting a precedence. Every vote a Board member takes should be based on the circumstances and facts at hand for that individual action, not past or future.
As for Ms. Pedersen and hiring a lawyer, you would need to ask her.

Anonymous said...

Spliting a community? If you drive down Piney Church Road you will find Hawkins Gate is at the end of the path. Neal will be just as close as Matula for these residents.
The argument that it splits up a community is bogus, if nothing it will force La Plata students to meet and go to school with their Waldorf neighbors, while remaining on sports teams and other activities with their La Plata friends. If nothing it will get them to bring Charles County as a community together — not La Plata vs. Waldorf as it stands today for these residents.

I am having a hard time believing this isn't a Waldorf reputation situation — which is exactly what Cook said during the last meeting. If the board would have agreed to grant an exception to these 27 students they would have been admiting that one community (La Plata) is more decent than another to send the students.

Charles County Public Schools splits its resources between all of its schools — so I have to ask what is Hawkins Gate residents issue with their children going to school in Waldorf besides spliting a community? That argument is weak!

Jennifer said...

Anonymous,
I heard these residents speak and met with some of them regarding the redistricting. I sincerely do NOT believe it is a matter of Waldorf vs. LaPlata schools. That "spin" on this controversy was started by a few individuals out to discredit the Hawkins Gate community and their arguements.
Some of their arguement is based on school and neighborhood communities. Think about the athletic clubs and extracurricular activities children are involved in...the school is usually the "hub" of the community. For example, if you are in LaPlata, it's the LaPlata Blue Knights for football. If you are at a Waldorf school, it's the Waldorf Wildcats. It's not like they are being moved to another LaPlata "region" school where their "hub" will basically remain the same. Their "hub" is being relocated to another district. Everything will need to change from extracurricular activities on down to daycare. I stick to my statement, "It is not a Waldorf vs. LaPlata school arguement."

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's not Waldorf vs. La Plata. It would be our same argument if our kids were being sent to Hughesville. The point is that Neal does not feed into Milton Sommers. So our small handfull of kids will be alone when they graduate to middle school. The athletic clubs that they belong to are in La Plata. I resent the accusation of being predjudice and arrogant. That is completely untrue and off the point. We presented many facts that supported our case. All went ignored, and instead the board and the media attempted to discredit our views as something other than what they were. I would support anyone's right to challenge redistricting. If alterations can be made to accomodate children, then every attempt schould be made. If the school cannot accomodate, then we will have to adjust. But allowing children to enroll as an exception before allowing residents is unfair. Redistricting is something we all need to get used to. Charles Country is growing at an alarming rate. Which is even more reason to improve the redistricting process so that each move is well thought out and the impact on the children is minimized. And the BoE needs to send letters home to notify parents of upcoming redisdistricting committees. In our case, we felt blindsided. We didn't even know about it until the plans were already drawn up. They sent plenty of letters home after the fact. At that point it was too late. I want to clarify that the volunteers on the committee did an excellent job. We are not criticizing them. They might not have forseen the impact of including Hawkins Gate because perhaps they were not familiar with the area. Our anger is directed at the head of the committee and the board. But the reason for having hearings is to solicit public input. To ignore our input and waste our time was an insult to us and all residents of Charles County. The process needs to be improved so that more residents can be involved in the positive changes for our children's future. The more we get involved, the better our schools and communities will grow.

Anonymous said...

Like I said before, Spliting a community is a weak argument. It is not the end of the world that these students will have to play sports on a La Plata team while going to a Waldorf school. If anything it will just allow them to meet more people, make new friends, and reach out of their comfort zone. When I was younger I played sports on a team outside my school district and I believe it helped me understand that there is life outside of my tiny school. God forbid these students have to do anything with people they have never met before.

Anonymous said...

I was a military brat and moved every three years. Every three years I would leave my friends and start all over. I never had any consistency. I had very few lifelong friends. I wanted something different for my child. So we'll have to agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

It is unfair that poor planning impacts our kids. As parents, many of us make choices about where we will live so that our children will be part of a consistent community. A handful of children from our elementary school feed to Henson (including mine) and Smallwood, while the majority feed to Somers. Assemblies are held to familiarize the majority of students with Somers, while excluding the few that are zoned elsewhere. This means that we (the few parents) have to have more initiative in familiarizing our kids with their new school and support them through the fears of meeting a lot of new kids. Then 3 years later (if zoning doesn't change) they will leave the friendships they establish at middle school and go through the anxiety provoking exercise of reuniting with kids from elementary school. We have chosen to use this experience as a learning tool for our kids, who knows? they might meet a new best friend, rather than having them perceive that Henson is somehow mediocre compared to Somers. We took the time to meet the staff at Henson and (even though the demographics of the students are very different from our elementary school) have confidence that they can provide a safe and nurturing learning environment. Rather than beating the board up about who goes where, the energy needs to be turned on the planning commission that approves building sites/plans with little thought to the long term effects of the growth.

Anonymous said...

I realize this is old news, but not to me. We will be moving to La Plata probably somewhere along the 488 corridor. If people think that something like this doesn't have a negative impact on a community, we were seriously looking at a couple of homes on Hawkins Gate Road; now Hawkins Gate is off the table. For those residents on Hawkins Gate trying to unload a home in this market, if there are others like us, the school board's illogical decision may have cost you dearly.