Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

October 13, 2002

Least change best in school boundaries

Who says school redistricting Plan 1 is the favored plan? Not David Drown, head of the Geographic Systems Office, and not the School Boundary Line Committee, which has yet to announce its final recommendations.

A few meeting attendees and wishful-thinkers have offered opinions - some of which have been printed in this paper. But, make no mistake, the school redistricting process is not over - no final decisions have been made.

Why is Plan 1 being touted as the favorite by a few? We have no idea.

It has the most schools at over 110 percent capacity, with a brand new elementary school opening at 111 percent of capacity, in an area that is slated for major growth. Plan 1 brings Phelps Luck capacity to 89.9 percent, allowing room for growth, but it does not allow for any growth at Bellow Springs.

It splits the Northeast Corridor, which residents have requested not be split since the start of the redistricting process. The plan is based on assumptions about a capital budget that has not been approved or funded.

Plans 2 and 3 offer viable, appealing solutions to redistricting concerns in the Northeast that would please many neighborhoods. Plan 3 or the "Minimal Movement Plan" moves the fewest students in Howard County and provides the most satisfaction to Howard County Residents. Plans 2 and 3 keep the Northeast Middle School feeds together.

Both plans keep the Northeast middle school feeds together. Enrollment across the board on these two plans is evenly spread. Plans 2 and 3 drop a very overcrowded Thunder Hill Elementary School to 98 percent of capacity as compared to 121 percent under Plan 1.

Montgomery Meadows favors Plan 3 for many of the reasons above. However, there are a few points, which are specific to why Plan 3 makes the most sense for our children. The most compelling of these points is distance.

Montgomery Meadows children currently go to Ilchester Elementary where they would remain under Plan 3. Ilchester is .85 miles from our neighborhood. In fact, one of the major roads in our neighborhood, Rising Sun Lane, egresses directly onto Ilchester Road. This fact was not obvious to committee members at the onset of these meetings as their county maps were incorrectly drawn.

Plan 1 extracts us from this nearby elementary school to bus us to a new one more than 3.5 miles away - around traffic circles and through major intersections on highly traveled roads. Also, Plan 3 keeps us at Ilchester Elementary and does not force our children to be redistricted - a fate they have endured three times.

It does not burden them with opening yet another elementary school - a monumental task our community, parents and children alike, has accomplished twice.

We cannot pit neighborhoods against each other in a battle to win over an "exclusive" phonics program. Some neighborhoods hesitant to move from Ilchester are clinging to this parent-favored program as an argument to stay where they are. In fact, several neighborhoods in Howard County receive the phonics program - eight schools in all teach Saxon Phonics.

No matter where our children go to school, the teachers that we have in Howard County will be able to complete our children's phonics education making them fluent readers. The highly talented teachers we enjoy in this county are certainly capable of taking new students and completing their reading instruction.

Montgomery Meadows residents recognize and appreciate the fact that Mr. Drown and his staff spent many months developing Plan 1 and have more at stake in it than other plans which have been presented.

However, Montgomery Meadows residents want Mr. Drown and the School Boundary Line Committee to make a fair and unbiased recommendation to the Board of Education taking into account all data, commentary and debate that has surfaced during the boundary line process.

No matter which was the first plan ... the plan which moves the least students and pleases the most residents should be declared the winner when the time is right!

Gina Ellrich

Ellicott City(Editor's note: The School Boundary Line Committee, at its meeting Thursday night, decided to drop Plan 1 and Plan 6 from consideration.)

Candidates: Talk to us rather than for us

It's a very considerate offer of county executive candidate Steve Adler to, if elected, move the county executive's offices to the Oakland Mills Village Center. However, I'd prefer that the taxpayer dollars he'd use to move the offices be spent on efforts to bring revenue-producing establishments to the center.

That's not to say county government wouldn't be welcome in our Village Center, but I'd personally prefer a police substation or social services satellite office to the County Executive's office.

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