When Dr. Foose told staff and AAC to go back to the drawing board, she could have explained herself better. She could have described her longer vision.
We heard a bit of that last night, near the 11 o'clock hour of the fourth work session. Speaking about the redistricting process, she said she "never wants to go through this again." She identified magnet programs - "true magnet programs" - as educational programming method of dealing with capacity issues. Dr. Foose also suggested with avoid redistricting by changing the way HCPSS and Howard County Government work on enrollment projections and allow for residential development. Board Member Cindy Vaillancourt followed up with questions about timelines for establishing magnet programs and for changing those other pieces of the balancing capacity puzzle.
They want to hold off going through such a contentious process again for three years. Yet, they are opening a new middle school in 2014, so they will have to draw the boundary lines for that next year.
And there's a wrinkle with next year. Several Board members are concerned about small feeds and double-small feeds. A small feed is when less than 15% of a middle school or high school comes from a particular feeder elementary or middle school. A double-small feed is when that happens at both levels involving the same neighborhoods. Joel Gallihue, Director of School Planning responded to the Board concerns by explaining that any small feeds to middle school that are created in this year's elementary redistricting plan can be fixed in next year's middle school plan without impacting the actual students moved in the elementary plan. Because the elementary and middle school plans take place in back-to-back years, no student will have to switch schools for fifth grade, attend their currently assigned middle for sixth grade, and then face redistricting for seventh. (The same is not true for the southeast, however, where elementary redistricting occurred last year and for which middle school redistricting next year will affect at least some of the same neighborhoods.)
Mr. Gallihue went on to explain, though, that if the approach to middle school redistricting is as minimalist as this year's plan, then not all of the small feeds can be fixed.
See, it's a really stinkin' mess.
If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend you read Sara Toth's article about the lastest in redistricting deliberation process: "Still no consensus as redistricting vote looms".