Thursday, June 22, 2017


There are times that I lament that I have nothing to write about. Right now is not one of those times. Today I could be writing about:
  • Last night's Pops Concert by the Columbia Orchestra at the Chrysalis
  • Yesterday's ceremony honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the People Tree and the return of the Carillon Bells
  • The County Executive's Veto of CB30
  • My first walk around Lake Kittamaqundi
  • An update on recent episodes of the Elevate Maryland Podcast
And that's not all. There's so much to write about that my brain is on overload. Which to write about first?

Overload. That reminds me.

School redistricting.

The school system released some preliminary information on Monday and there has been much discussion on Facebook about what it means. I have been extremely hesitant to join in because 1) our daughter will most likely not be affected, and 2) redistricting is not my field of expertise. I am loath to hold forth on something that many people feel passionately about when I don't have that sense of personal involvement that others clearly have.

This is what I do know. We have needed to do redistricting for some time and it has been put off, making this go-round a much bigger proposition. If you look at overcrowding in some areas and compare it to the schools that are under-enrolled, you know that this is just not sustainable. Almost everyone agrees with that. Yet almost no one wants their child (or, in some cases, their property values) to be affected.

Board of Education chair Cynthia Vaillancourt has responded to parent concerns as follows:

"Please don't get upset yet - but do get involved. This is a very very preliminary look at the options. The committee has not even been formed yet. There will be months of work and community input."


That's not really how this process works... "one hard plan in place and making a decision on that plan."  It is a "starting point" for a conversation and a months long process where a committee of community members ... with input from the community along the way ... do model various options and alterations.  There is a computer program which is called the "whiffer"... for "what if..." program that allows the staff to input polygons and assemble the impact on the 11 criteria.  By the time this is over in November, you will be sick of hearing about "the whiffer".

We wanted a better Board of Education. And we wanted a Superintendent who would work with stakeholders. If, in fact, we have gotten what we were looking for, then this will be a test of how that works. Is the process transparent? Is the community being encouraged to participate? Does the school system show responsiveness to concerns that are raised?

Now we engage in the process with them and see how it works. I don't think it is necessary for parents to "come out swinging", girded for the fight. But definitely come out. Participate. Listen. Learn more. Interact.

Will this make the redistricting process easy? Will it make everything go the way we want it to go? No. But it will make it a better, and fairer, process for everyone.

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