Frederick County School Board Circular Files School Redistricting Plan

Yesterday the Frederick County School Board decided to scrap a school redistrcting plan that had been adopted two weeks ago. The move, made amid charges of ethical concerns (a citizen had filed an ethics complaint citing possible conflicts of interest in that a school board member’s own children would be affected by the changes) and “unacceptable enrollment numbers” caused the Board to scrap a plan it has tentatively adopted on May 27. The Board has asked the Frederick Ethics panel for an opinion regarding the ethical concerns.

The redistricting plan, a necessity given the wide disparities in enrollment in a number of areas, including the growing Urbana area and the neighborhoods of eastern Frederick, was opposed in part because some of the changes that were included in the May 27 adoption had been made without public comment.

While overcrowded schools are simply going to be a fact of life in Frederick for near term and distant future, there was a concern that too many of the overcrowded schools would have a disproportionate share of kids on free or reduced-price meals (an indicator of poverty).

To be quite honest, there is no way that anyone is going to be satisfied with any redistricting plan. Someone, somewhere will hate the plan. But this is where the School Board has done a good job because for the most part the process has been open, all plans have been subject to extensive public comment. But with the last minute changes, the School Board undid themselves.

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Staff members have been asked to put together a new plan, which will be available for comment. However, the school year ends next week and this new plan is scheduled to take effect for the 2009-2010 school year, so the Board does not have long to make a decision. While the process must and should be open, at some point in the next six weeks a decision must be made.

I hope the Board has the courage to make that decision that will benefit the most people, and not just those who are the most vocal.

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