Friday, June 06, 2014

My Stance on Redistricting and Renovations

The below questions were presented to me on Facebook.
Why doesn't the school system engage in full redistricting/rebalancing to address the perceived overcrowding? How can the board stand behind a new pool at St Charles while at the same time say there's inadequate funding for repairs at other schools?
When the opportunity presents itself, the school system does engage in a full redistricting/rebalancing to address overcrowding. The most recent example is the comprehensive high school redistricting, conducted through an extensive, yearlong process. The high school redistricting takes effect in August with the opening of St. Charles High School. The opening of a new high school provided the opportunity to take a comprehensive look at all high school student populations and predicted growth and to change boundaries to better distribute students and relieve overcrowding for now, and hopefully for a number of years to come. Delays in construction of St. Charles High School stalled the comprehensive redistricting longer than the school system would have liked, but the Board did not want to redistrict high schools twice in a short time. This redistricting impacted students and staff at all six high schools and reduces the overcrowding while leaving room for growth at all seven, including the new high school. 
Overcrowding of our schools is not perceived; it is the main reason for redistricting. Any time we open a new school, redistricting is necessary to create an attendance zone and we do a comprehensive redistricting for the surrounding schools and areas to adjust for growth and overcrowding. When particular schools become severely overcrowded, we also redistrict. We try to minimize the impact when we redistrict, because the effect on people is great. 
Anyone who would suggest that we do a redistricting before it is absolutely necessary has never been redistricted, a parent of a student who has been redistricted or a staff member who has been transferred. A comprehensive redistricting today may only last a short time until there is a true planned growth plan.  We redistrict when we need to because that is our job as Board members. In Charles County, growth has made it more common than we would like.
Going forward, we are looking at ways to renovate our older buildings while adding capacity when we can. In August, the Board of Education will receive a comprehensive report on our facilities and develop a 10-year plan for renovations and additions.
As for your second question, the pool was approved by the county commissioners and will be funded from the excise tax. The county is fully funding this project. (In other words, the state will not, and would not, provide any funding for this project.) 
Building renovations are usually partially funded by the state and must be approved by the state.  However, each year the county is only allotted a certain amount of money from the state and in recent years we have had to use our allotments to build new schools.  So when it came time to request building renovations, the county has refused to fully forward fund them (in the past) for fear of never recouping the states portion of the project.


Dontae said...

Regarding the pool: Could you have simple said "NO THANK YOU." We have more pressing needs and would gladly take that money to address them

Jennifer Abell said...

If only it was that easy :). To start with, I would have to have four members on the board that agreed with that thinking. Next we would have to have at least three commissioners that would agree to that as well. Col. Wade shocked us all when he requested the pool once again during a joint meeting in a way that only he could have gotten way with. I would have been publicly slaughtered. God rest his soul.

Dontae said...

Col. Wade's comments made the political optics difficult. I get that. However, right is right...and more kids of all colors would have benefited from spreading those funds throughout the system. I believe this was a lack of leadership by both boards.