Clarksburg Cluster Boundaries: Where do we Draw the Line?

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Notes from Final Public Meeting of Elementary School Boundary Study before Plan goes to Superintendent – June 5, 2013, Little Bennett ES.

The question on every Clarksburg parent’s mind lately is: where will my kids go to school in August 2014?

The process for determining the boundary changes that will take effect with the opening of the new elementary school in Clarksburg Village in August 2014 continues. The process has good intentions:  get feedback from the community, so the Superintendent and the Board of Education (who really makes the decision) feel that everyone was consulted.

The first public meeting was February 27, 2013, just before the “Boundary Advisory Committee” (BAC) — consisting of six parents from Cedar Grove ES, five from Little Bennett ES and two Clarksburg Cluster coordinators — began their set of six meetings. Their charge: determine the criteria for drawing the boundaries, and evaluate the options provided by the Department of Long Range Planning (DLRP).

Notes from the six meetings can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.  Six meetings and ten options later, the final public meeting was held on Wednesday night. You can access Wednesday’s power point presentation here. The meeting, led by Bruce Crispell, from the DLRP, drew a surprisingly small crowd considering what a hot issue this has been.

So, for those who couldn’t make it, I’ve distilled it down what we need to know, and what outcome we can anticipate:

  • Criteria considered for drawing the lines:
    • Keep communities together;
    • Steer clear of those reassigned in the past (some Arora Hills families have moved their kids three times already);
    • Maximize safe walking access;
    • Keep schools within capacities;
    • Maintain diversity; and
    • Consider the new middle school planned for 2016.
  • Timeline:
    • June 14, 2013 – BAC Report due to Superintendent.
    • October, 2013 – Superintendent submits recommendation to the Board of Education.
    • November 7, 2013 – Staff will present the Superintendent’s recommendations and address questions of the Board of Ed – the public may be present, but may not speak.
    • November 11 & 14, 2013 – Two public hearings when the public may address concerns.
    • November 18, 2013 – Decision will be announced.
  • Of the 10 options, these are the “cliffs notes” [for a detailed look at all ten options, click here]:
    • Some options were drawn along main artery roads;
    • Others kept communities together;
    • Some aimed to keep communities together, but left out one street or two;
    • Some aimed to keep school capacities low.
    • Diversity percentages remained consistent in most options.
  • And the winner is? (spoiler alert)
    • Bruce Crispell hinted that the BAC would most likely choose option 10.
    • Option 10 is the only one that keeps all communities together, while keeping school capacities where they need to be.

Along the way, active and concerned parents have done an impressive job of changing the trajectory of possible outcomes.

For example, parent of pre-school aged children, Danielle Maureen lives in a section of Clarksburg Village that some options dictated would not go to the new school. She shared a summary of her experience:

I had hoped to be on the boundary advisory committee making the decisions. However, when I attended the first meeting, the committee was already formed and was made up of Little Bennett and Cedar Grove PTA parents. This was frustrating because this decision was really going to impact my (2- and 3-year old) children. Options 1-5 were presented and I eagerly checked the county’s website to find out what was proposed and was happy to see that in all five options my children would attend the new school with the rest of Clarksburg Village. I later found out that the committee was not happy with any of the five options because they split Arora Hills and options 6-9 were presented. I completely support keeping Arora Hills together, however all of these options left my children and the others on my block as the only ones in Clarksburg Village not to attend the new school. I quickly took action and had my block sign a petition stating that we wanted to secede from the rest of our zone and form our own zone and be grouped with Clarksburg Village. I attended several meetings to present this and everyone was very supportive. We realized that we all long to feel that sense of community and we want to stick together. Option 10 is the only option that successfully keeps all the communities together.

Danielle is a great example of taking action and making a difference. Without her active participation, we would most likely not have even had an option 10.

Though it’s a predicted winner, option 10 is not a done deal. On Friday, June 14, we’ll see if the BAC recommends option 10 to the Superintendent. Then, time will tell if Joshua Starr will side with the community, or go his own way with the boundary study. Finally, it’s the Board of Education that will make the final decision.

How do you think the County will respond to recommendations of the people within the community? Or, will they go with a different plan that they had in mind all along?