Final hearing on school boundary changes held
Board to vote on proposal at June 13 meeting
Nineteen people shared their opinions on Charles County Public Schools Superintendent Kimberly Hill’s proposed redistricting plan during the third and final public hearing Monday night at Westlake High School.
Approximately 80 people attended the meeting, and although 25 people signed up to speak, several did not come forward when their number was called.
The redistricting hearing comes as the school system grapples with boundary changes due to school overcrowding and the construction of a new school, Billingsley Elementary, which is expected to open in White Plains in the fall of 2018.
On May 9, Hill announced her choice of two options presented by the school system’s Elementary School Redistricting Committee: Option A. Option A will relocate an estimated 2,221 students and will impact all but six of the county’s elementary schools.
The Board of Education is expected to vote on the superintendent’s proposed plan at its June 13 meeting. The new boundaries would go into effect at the beginning of the
2018-19 school year.
Layla Johnson, a first grader at Mary Matula Elementary School, asked the board not to make her leave her school.
“I have a lot of friends at Matula and I love my teachers. I do not want to move to a new school because I work hard at Matula and get good grades,” Layla said. “Please don’t make me leave my school.”
Sean McLeod of Waldorf said the citizens of Charles County are being forced to pay the price for development in the county.
“[Washington] D.C. is pushing everyone further south, and we’re the ones paying the price, and the price is our children,” McLeod said. “We need to tell these builders that they need to bring more money back into the county and build better schools to serve the people who are already here.”
Karen Brandes of La Plata said students moving to a new school for fifth grade will not have the same opportunities to participate in clubs and activities as they would at their current schools.
“I understand that when a new school is built, some amount of redistricting needs to occur, but making fifth graders move can be detrimental to their education and well-being,” Brandes said. “Academic groups will have already been formed, and they will not be able to be officers in any of the clubs that they take part of, because those positions will already be filled, and even if they’re not, it’s unlikely a new kid will get to be in that position.”
Tara Johnson of La Plata said her son, who currently attends Walter J. Mitchell Elementary, would be forced to move to Matula.
“When moving in 2014, I chose to purchase my home in the established subdivision of Ellenwood, because they have attended Walter J. Mitchell for the last 40 years. I chose this house and this school system because I wanted my children to attend the same elementary school I did,” Tara Johnson said. “You’ve left us without a voice, without a choice and without hope.”
Janet Johnson of Waldorf said the school system should put in some sort of waiver for students who will be entering their final year of elementary school when the rezoning goes into effect.
“What you’re asking of future 10-year-olds — to move two times in two years — in my eyes is unacceptable and irresponsible of the Board of Education,” Janet Johnson said.
More information on the superintendent’s proposed elementary school redistricting plan can be found on the school system’s website at www. ccboe.com/redistricting.
Although there will be no further public hearings, comments can still be emailed to redistrict@ ccboe.com or mailed to Charles County Public Schools, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646. The deadline for comments is June 1.