HoCo FEI Supports New Area Adjustment Planning
HoCo Families for Education Improvement (FEI) strongly supports Howard County Board of Education (BOE) member Dr. Chao Wu’s proposed area adjustment plan for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), which logically separates balancing utilization and capacity from addressing the achievement gap. We urge the BOE to move forward on solidifying this plan based on the following:
- Putting our students’ needs first. “Do no harm” to students is a principle all of us should adhere to – the wellbeing of our children is top priority. Dr. Wu’s plan moves the minimum number of students necessary to balance the capacity of schools (less than half the number proposed in other plans – 3,000 students in total versus 7,500 or 9,000 students). Minimal disruption to our children is a “win” for us all!
- Providing a solution that incorporates BOE and
community feedback. Dr. Wu’s plan directly addresses the top priorities of both
HCPSS and our community members:
- Fiscal responsibility – our County must adhere to a budget, and cost is a clear factor in redistricting.
- Maintenance of community boundaries and feeds (per Policy 6010 IV.B.2.a and b) – we need to avoid frequent widespread redistricting and provide stability for our students.
- Truly improving free and reduced meals (FARM) ratios – with a focus on improving socio-economic status for the neediest, not just balancing percentages.
- Planning for a bright future. Poorly executed and hasty redistricting will mean significant double moves due to High School 13, slated to open in 2024. While we acknowledge the new high school means additional redistricting, Dr. Wu’s plan minimizes these disruptive duplicate moves.
- Consistency with proposed legislation put forth by the Howard County State Delegation. State legislators have proposed legislation which also logically separates balancing utilization and capacity from addressing the achievement gap, while also aiming to address both important issues efficiently and appropriately. Dr. Wu’s proposal most directly aligns with those bills by prioritizing redistricting to address capacity while also targeting equity concerns in a deliberate, strategic manner.
FEI also supports local legislation proposed by the Howard County State Delegation to facilitate school redistricting, specifically:
- We support Senator Clarence Lam’s HoCo 01-20 because it aims to require redistricting specifically and primarily to reduce overcrowding in county schools.
- We support Delegate Terri Hill’s HoCo 06-20 because it aims to facilitate narrowing and closing achievement gaps strategically and deliberately based upon hard data, intergovernmental partnerships, and the best social science available.
Both bills aim to ensure that every student in Howard County receives an outstanding education, without unduly posing them any harm. This directly aligns with FEI’s mission.