Keep Spring Ridge as part of LOU community

Keep Spring Ridge as part of LOU community

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Bethany Lord started this petition to Frederick County Public Schools

A public school redistricting activity is ongoing in Frederick County in 2019 that impacts the Linganore-Oakdale-Urbana (LOU) Area.  Detailed information can be found online here: https://www.fcps.org/facilities/linganore-oakdale-urbana-area-redistricting-study  According to distributed information, the redistricting study is tasked with (1) Creating attendance boundaries for two new elementary schools, (2) Balancing the utilization of other elementary schools in the study area, (3) Evaluating middle and high schools for utilization concerns, and (4) aligning feeder patterns.  For the study, neighborhoods in LOU areas have been partitioned into planning blocks with boundaries that are consistent with the existing school districts. 

This petition addresses the concerns of the Spring Ridge neighborhood, which includes planning blocks (PB) 1, 61, 83, 97, 99, and 164.  According to information being used in the study, this includes 387, 195, and 354 children in elementary (K-5), middle (6-8), and high school (9-12), respectively.  At present, all Spring Ridge PBs attend Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School (GTJMS) and Oakdale High School (OHS).  However, PBs #1 and #61 (“East Spring Ridge”) attend Oakdale Elementary School (OES) while the West side of the HOA (PBs #83, 97, 99, and 164) attend the nearby Spring Ridge Elementary School (SRES).

In June 2019, two options “A” and “B” were proposed in which all the planning blocks in Spring Ridge attended the same three schools: Spring Ridge Elementary, Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School, and Oakdale High School.  For Spring Ridge, this is a significant change from both the existing districts and the three “concepts” proposed in March 2019 since the entire neighborhood would attend the same elementary school.  The Spring Ridge community welcomes this change to the elementary school district, and would appreciate efforts by the Board of Education to keep the entire neighborhood together in this way.  Even so, more could be done to reduce the SRES utilization factor (97% for both Options), and the FARM rates (29% for both Options).  Note that the FARM statistics are the highest for all the elementary schools in the study, and are over twice the average FARM percentage for both Options.

For Spring Ridge residents, there are several concerns with regard to the middle school districting.  These concerns were first communicated to the Board of Education (BOE) via the community survey conducted by the redistricting effort itself.  Along with other Frederick County residents, Spring Ridge families highlighted the five most important criteria from the Frederick County Redistricting Criteria (Policy 200.2), which were: (1) Proximity to schools, (2) Impact on neighborhoods, (3) Educational welfare, (4) Established feeder patterns, and (5) Student academic performance.  It is important to note that the criteria listed in Policy 200.2C (see Appendix D of the Redistricting Background Report) are entirely undefined (only a list appears in the policy document), are not prioritized, and are not explicitly associated with any specific quantitative metrics.  As a result, they may take on entirely different meanings to different individuals.  It is also not clear how and to what extent the criteria are satisfied by the Options and Concepts proposed thus far.  Even so, it is the general opinion of the Spring Ridge community that sending our children to GTJMS is inconsistent with all of these criteria for the following reasons. 

1.      Spring Ridge is located significantly farther from GTJMS compared to Oakdale Middle School so the proximity to schools criteria is not respected.

2.      Attendance at GTJMS followed by OHS does not position Spring Ridge students in a district in which all children attending a particular middle school attend the same high school.  Only 38% of GTJMS students attend Oakdale High School.  The risk of being separated from over half of their classmates has the potential to significantly disrupt the education experience of some students when moving from middle to high school, resulting in a negative impact to the neighborhood.  This negative impact is not quantified by any metric reported to the public during the redistricting study.  In fact, the simple metrics used to quantify impact to neighborhoods do not measure at all the extent to which any criteria are not satisfied for any given student.

3.      Given the transportation distance and high traffic volume on Route 144, attendance at GTJMS requires a long commute time, and an early pickup time for Spring Ridge students using bus transportation.  This jeopardizes their educational welfare by impacting their sleep schedules, increases the risk of late arrival at school, increases the risk of automobile accidents, and reduces the time available for participation in after school programs.

4.      Taken together, the reasons provided thus far are anticipated to have a negative impact on student academic performance, and on the overall quality of life for Spring Ridge residents.

Given these concerns, the residents of Spring Ridge who have signed this petition respectfully request that an additional Option be developed and adopted in which students from Spring Ridge attend Oakdale Middle School instead of Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School. 

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