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Advertise on the Tentacle

March 20, 2007

Who's on First?

Maude Franceschina

Who's on First?

Maude Franceschina

(Editor's Note: Tentacle Columnist Maude Franceschina sent an email last week to the Board of Education. The chain of responses raises more questions than provides answers. We believe our readers will find this correspondence more interesting in the sequence of emails than in the information provided. The actual email addresses have been deleted.)

From: Maude Franceschina

Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 1:36:19 PM

To: BOE; Leslie Mansfield; Donna Crook; Linda Burgee

Cc: County Commissioner Charles Jenkins

Subject: Redistricting

Auto forwarded by a Rule

Today the Holly Hills community held a discussion meeting to review the redistricting options and to get a feel for the attitude of the community regarding redistricting of the children in this area.

I know this is a difficult time for all of you and I am sure you are inundated with emails so I will be brief. These are my personal observations from the meeting. I am not speaking for the group.

The overwhelming concern that seemed to be voiced at the meeting was the feeling that redistricting is being approached in a haphazard way. There is concern that the kids will be sent in to a feeder pattern that well may end up being even more crowded than the Urbana feeder.

From the reports by Ray Barnes it appears that FCPS is planning for little to no growth in the New Market region. This does not seem realistic and we are all concerned that this will result in another redistricting a couple of years down the road.

There was concern that some of the children are being redistricted for the third time and that redistricting was due to a lack of poor planning initially which the children will now have to pay for socially, emotionally and academically.

I don't believe that there would be opposition to a well thought out redistricting plan that gives families a sense of what to expect. Until such time as the BOE is willing to assure this community of the long term feeder pattern plan, I expect the resistance will continue and be very strong.

Is there a way to establish the future HS feeder pattern plan prior to the 2008 change? Even if in the interim the children continue at UMS and UHS this needs to be clearly established.

What about children already in UMS and UHS? Will they be able to remain in that pattern?

If not, what are the options?

At what point (grade) will they be allowed to be "grandfathered" in to the feeder and remain to complete their education? Will this even be an option when Linganore opens and redistricting is completed?

Answering these questions may alleviate some of the concerns. It would be nice if we could get behind the plan as a community.

On another note, can some of the funds that are put into these new schools for over the top technology (Video announcements and the like) be shared with other schools in the feeder pattern to allow for more equity in the use of such technology in the classroom? To eliminate video announcements and similar technological fluff to put in wireless technology or some new computer systems in an older school would make a lot of sense.

I believe that the current system of "all the bells and whistles" for new schools is one of the major reasons that people become resistant to redistricting, particularly when being sent from a new school to an older school. (Has that even happened before?) The older schools are not kept up to date on technology. Is that the case in other counties as well? Could that be another cog in the wheel of teacher attrition?

Many of the BOE members have expressed the sentiment "This is how it is in Frederick County." While everyone understands that in a growing community there is a need for some changes, there is no excuse for gross negligence on the part of those doing the planning. Unfortunately that is the overwhelming sense out in the community, the BOE screwed up the planning in the first place due to a lack of accurate information from FCPS staff. It may be time to call in some experts in the field, real experts, not just former employees.

Respectfully submitted,

Maude Franceschina

(Editor's Note: Under a rule adopted by the Board of Education, all correspondence received by one or more members at their office is forwarded to all of them. Judith Ricketts is the administrative director for the elected Board of Education.)

From: BOE

Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 1:37 PM

To: Ricketts,Judith A

Subject: FW: Redistricting

From: Ricketts, Judith A.

Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 6:20 PM

To: Linda Burgee; Bonnie Borsa; Daryl Boffman; Donna Crook; Jean Smith; Katie Groth; Leslie Mansfield; Michael E. Schaden.

Subject: FW: Redistricting

From: Katie Groth

Sent: Thu 3/15/2007 9:35 PM

To: Linda Burgee

Subject: RE: Redistricting


I would like to answer this in some kind of way. There are some questions that we could answer and perhaps alleviate some of the angst out there. But it occurred to me that answering this person could only add fuel to a fire that has only just begun. The letter progresses from what sounds like a reasonable set of concerns to a personal attack on our staff folks who only work their hearts out to do the right thing.

This is another example of the type of letter that I want some rule of thumb about answering. Do you think that if I forwarded this to Kitty she might help us with it? There are other folks who do this same thing. I would like a clever strategy to handle this.

I keep remembering your "sandwich approach" which is to start with something nice, add the hard stuff, and then end with something nice. How might this work here?


(Editor's Note: In the above email, the Kitty referred to is an employee of The Maryland Association of Boards of Education.)

-----Original Message-----

From: Burgee, Linda D.

Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2007 10:04 PM

To: Katie Groth

Subject: RE: Redistricting

Hi Katie,

I don't know that Maude expects a response...She indicates that these are her "personal observations." However, I would send a brief response.

Something along the lines of :

Thank you for your email. The Board will carefully consider all input as they make decisions regarding future attendance areas. Questions and options regarding new attendance areas, grandfathering, etc. will be part of that discussion.

I share your concern about the inequity in technology between older and newer schools. Funds for technology/equipment for a new school are part of the construction budget and the use of these funds is restricted to only that project. Our Board has requested funding for a technology replacement cycle for the past several years. For the last two years, we received one-time funds to replace our oldest generation of computers. We are making a similar request this year.


----- Original Message -----

From: Katie Groth

To: Maude Franceschina


Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 5:12 AM

Subject: RE: Redistricting

Dear Ms. Franceschina,

Thank you for writing. We on the Board of Education are considering many suggestions, some of which come from members of the community, as we consider future school attendance areas. "Grandfathering" will certainly be part of that discussion.

I understand and do share the concerns you raise about technology inequity between our newer and older schools. When a new school is built, we believe that up-to-date technology is needed and it becomes part of the construction budget, but only for that project.

The Board of Education is looking to fund a technology replacement cycle so that each year, the oldest equipment can be retired and replaced by the newer equipment.

Thank you again for your letter.

Katie Groth, President

Board of Education of Frederick County

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