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Residents Tell Charles County School Board Not To Redistrict
Waldorf, MD - 3/1/2012
By Andy Marquis
Charles County’s Board of Education heard from residents who would be affected by a redistricting proposal during a public hearing held at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf on Tuesday night. The message they heard was fierce and direct opposition to the proposed plans.
The plan would send children of residents in the Bennsville corridor to Matthew Henson Middle School from Theodore Davis Middle School, and would send children of Autumn Hills community residents to C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School in Waldorf, moving them from Berry Elementary School.
“Let me stay at Berry,” Berry Elementary School second grade student Ajaiya Thomas said.
“I watched a kid on Smallwood Drive light a joint right in front of me and my children,” Latoya Bowman of Waldorf said. “If my kid is sent to Barnhart, I’m going to have to move because I can’t afford to send my kids to private school and I won’t accept them having a subpar education.”
“Redistricting does not fix overcrowding, it shifts it to other schools,” Andrea Tyler said. “We need more schools.”
Residents spoke about what they felt were the academic failures of C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, which is a Title I school located in the middle of the Lancaster neighborhood.
“Neither option A or B gives our child an option” Leona Partis of Waldorf said. “Both options have our kids going to the same school. Safety is our big concern. When the parents of Barnhart had the option to move their children from that school, why would you move children to that school that you asked other parents to move their children from?
“I understand you are trying to use Title I funding to improve Barnhart, but I want viable options.”
“You guys have failed us,” Deron Tross of Waldorf said. “All these people in here are registered voters. All of you up here are on notice. If I have to march, I will show up to the Board of Education daily. I will fight for my child. This is personal! Come November, I will meet you in the ballot box.
“Our children would experience a culture change. I have a six year old, eight year old and eleven year old. I don’t want my children walking that far to a neighborhood that shows it is not safe. If you want to achieve racial balance, our children should go to Wade Elementary.”
“Are the empty seats (at Davis) going to proposed new developments,” Rosemin Daya asked. “Our children are not numbers!”
“We have a median income of $89,000, why do we have a school that is failing,” LeeAnn Richardson of Waldorf asked. “Barnhart is made up of African American children, what is going on in Charles County?
“For Barnhart and parents that have students there, let’s work to bring that school up. I’m not going to bad mouth Barnhart, I feel bad for the students who have to go there. But I’m not going to let my kids go there, let’s do something about it.”
“You guys are out of focus, you need to be replaced, and you have no leadership,” Thomas Judkins of Waldorf said. “You have a school failing for five years. You need to be removed. You didn’t do your job for five years so let’s talk for the kids at Barnhart.”
“I have a GPA of 4.0 all year,” Hannah Gates, a sixth grader at Davis, said. “Science and technology are important to me. All your plans to move me from Davis to Henson would completely destroy my goals that I have worked to accomplish at Davis. Henson doesn’t have the STEM programs or after school programs. All middle schools should have the same programs are available. We deserve the right to have the same programs in every school so we can achieve our goals together.”
Several residents called on the board to build new schools and called for the county to place a moratorium on new construction so redistricting would no longer be necessary.
“I can’t say build more schools because you would if you had funding,” Joseph Hangarter of Waldorf said. “I won’t say you guys should stop new construction because I know you don’t have a say in that. I won’t say I won’t vote for you because I know you haven’t had any input.”
Another speaker said he was “disgusted” that residents were beating up on Barnhart, saying, “When it was a failing school and hearings were being held about it, you didn’t show up. Now that you might go here, you show up and think it’s unacceptable.”
Several speakers also called for a moratorium on redistricting the Autumn Hills neighborhood or said that their students should be allowed to stay in the schools they are currently in.
"The county commissioners are working with us to restrict building of homes," Charles County Board of Education Chairman Roberta Wise said. "State Rated Capacity would allow us to stop this type of redistricting. They are having a public hearing on that onMarch 6th, 6pm, public hearing."
Over 60 people spoke and over 120 people were in attendance at the public hearing which lasted almost three hours.
A formal recommendation on the redistricting scenarios will be sent to the Charles County Board of Education on March 13th and another public hearing will be held on March 26th. The board will take action at its April 10th meeting.
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