In response to an extreme population growth over the last 20 years, MCPS recently hired a consulting firm to conduct a district-wide boundary analysis attempting to abate severe crowding issues and create diverse communities. As the news spreads, so do rumors regarding the county’s true objectives.
President of the Board of Education, Shebra Evans and Superintendent Jack Smith sent an email to community members clarifying their true intentions. “The goal of the district-wide boundary analysis is to help MCPS better understand the impact existing boundaries have on school overcrowding, student diversity and proximity to the school,” Evans and Smith said.
The boundary analysis being conducted will result in an interactive tool and a final report to the school system in June. The interactive tool is being created to help the community comprehend the challenges of school assignment.
The county claims that they want to continue maximizing the number of students who walk to school in order to remain economically efficient. However, families in the Clarksburg area specifically have found that the change may create longer bus rides and an unnecessary inconvenience to students in certain neighborhoods. There have been protests to stop the redistricting plan but the Board of Education found in a 7-1 vote that changes to the Clarksburg, Seneca Valley, and Northwest areas were necessary.
A focus on diversity has also played a role in the county’s analysis. While Montgomery County is one of the more diverse counties in the nation, it still has areas that could become even more so. Community members are concerned that the Board of Education is considering diversity and overcrowding above geographical convenience.
Board members claim that a diverse community will raise test scores, encourage creativity, and reduce racial bias and counter stereotypes. While this has been proven true, it does not change the fact that parents will find themselves in an inconvenience when students live far from their new designated school. “I think diversity is important and a change should be made if it is necessary. It’s unfortunate for the people who may suffer a long bus ride but will benefit the community as a whole,” sophomore Helena Hansen said.
In the email from Evans and Smith, it was made clear that no recommendations or requests are to be accepted from community members.
Because it may lead to drastic changes, MCPS parents and students have developed strong opinions on the county’s plan. “I have a friend who goes to Clarksburg and went to a protest with his family because if the county follows through with this plan his little brothers will have to go to Seneca Valley, which is really far from their house,” junior Matty Koplan said.
Boundary changes are common, it is the district-wide analyses that are not. MCPS makes small changes to boundaries often in response to new schools. If a few schools experience a boundary change it is not necessarily a rare event.