Happy New Year! I hope that 2023 brings happiness and prosperity to each of you.
On January 4, the Board of Education conducted a special workshop on redistricting — the topic of this first column of the year. Redistricting is the most political and challenging part of my job for a variety of reasons, and it’s essential to opening the new Old Mill High School, West County Elementary School and other schools down the road as well as rebalancing enrollment.
All of us are very attached to our schools, communities, after-curricular activities, child care facilities and schedules. Whether we admit it or not, we are all creatures of habit. Redistricting puts all of that on its head. The challenge of populating new schools and rebalancing enrollment at others will be difficult and potentially stressful for parents and students alike and must include, as it should, much more listening than speaking on the part of myself and my colleagues.
The special workshop is well worth your attention and can be found at www.aacps.org/youtube.
The likely plan will tackle redistricting the entire school system in two phases. The first of which will kick off next month and will finish this fall for implementation in fall of 2024. The clusters set to be tackled during the first phase will include the Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast and Old Mill districts in order to both populate the new Old Mills West High School and West County Elementary School as well as to alleviate massive school overcrowding in the northern part of the county.
The second phase will commence in February 2025 and wrap up in fall of 2025 for implementation in fall of 2026. The remaining clusters include Annapolis, Arundel, Broadneck, Crofton, Severna Park, South River and Southern. Both phases will include extensive public input.
I understand the tumultuous history of redistricting in this county. Whether the decisions were motivated by wealth, power, racism, etc., some school boundaries throughout the county were created or changed in the past for reasons other than populating new schools or equitably balancing enrollment. My commitment to all AACPS students and to the residents of District 5 is that I will carefully consider all data-supported plans with an open mind. I do want to make clear, however, that I am not likely to support the breaking apart of communities along the northern or eastern borders of District 5, especially those that will put more students and traffic down Mountain Road.
Likewise, I remain open to any proposals not already presented to alleviate overcrowding in Broadneck and Severna Park elementary schools. The bottom line is that we are fortunate to live in a cluster not plagued by constant overcrowding and have the room to accept more students from schools that are bursting at the seams. I welcome data-supported plans that endeavor to do just that.
There is no action to be taken by residents of District 5 until the second phase starts in February 2025. In the interim, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have. I am always available to participate in respectful dialogue by phone (443-534-2660), email (email@example.com), and social media.
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