Photo Courtesy of http://www.hcpss.org
October 25, 2017
On October 3, Interim Superintendent Dr. Martirano officially recommended that the re-
districting of 8,800 students in the 2018-2019 school year should be postponed until the 2020-2021 school year. The Board of Education will vote on this measure on November 16 after holding two public hearings on October 26 and November 7.
“I wouldn’t personally be affected, but a lot of my close friends would be moving to River Hill, and a lot of other people would be coming to Atholton so I would be impacted by that,” said sophomore Sophie Kohn.
If the redistricting takes place in 2018, the shift in school reassignments might surprise and even anger some families, but it would ultimately relieve overcrowding across the county.
Many HCPSS parents are displeased with the redistricting that will cause their children to switch schools, for many purposely moved so their children could attend their desired schools.
Sophie Kohn’s mother, who lives in the Hammond Middle School and Atholton High School district, said, “We moved into this house and neighborhood because the schools were so good, specifically Atholton.” Additionally, Ms. Pilcher, who has a daughter at Centennial High School and two more to follow, said that the Centennial district “is a very desireable school for certain groups that they move specifically to go to Centennial.” It can be difficult for parents to come terms with this redistricting, especially because it came out in short notice.
Some also seem concerned with seemingly random timing of the redistricting decision. “The redistricting kind of came out of nowhere in terms of high school because we didn’t know anything about it at the end of school year last year,” Ms. Pilcher said.
It is essential to point out that the original redistricting plan was announced just before Dr. Martirano became the interim superintendent, suggesting that Dr. Foose, the previous superintendent, proposed the redistricting measures and then let Dr. Martirano spearhead this plan at the beginning of his term, according to Ms. Pilcher.
According to Dr. Martinaro’s presentation to the Board of Education on October 3, if the redistricting for high school is postponed until the 2020-2021 school year, a more permanent and long-term solution to the rapid population increase will be fully addressed.
At the same time, many people believe the redistricting for next school year should be considered. Ms. Chaudhry explained that the redistricting is “a necessary conversation to alleviate overcrowding in schools after looking at some projections.” A projected 10,000 students are estimated to be added into the Howard County schools over the next 10 years due to growing families and the building of additional homes.
“It’s a legitimate issue,” Sean Edwards, a parent of two HCPSS students, said. “The approach of addressing the under-capacity in certain schools and the over-capacity in other schools is very important.” According to Howard County’s 2017 Feasibility Report, the goal of redistricting is to alleviate overcrowding at Atholton, Hammond, Howard, Long Reach, and Mt. Hebron, while shifting students to the under-crowded schools: Wilde Lake, Glenelg, Marriotts Ridge, River Hill, and Oakland Mills.
Individuals from all backgrounds are turning to the Board of Education for answers on this complicated redistricting issue. When asked for an interview, however, the Student Member of the Board, Anna Selbrede, wrote that “Dr. Martirano announced ‘radio silence’ on the topic at this time, so I’m not allowed to reply.” But it seems that the public is not following the roaring silence.