Montgomery County parents continue to ask questions and clarification about boundary analysis

Fear and confusion continues for many parents concerned over the Montgomery County school district's boundary study.

They believe there is lack of information from the district about where their kids will attend school.

On Tuesday, a sixth meeting being led by the external consultants conducting the analysis was scheduled to be held at Northwest High School in Germantown with the intention of helping parents with school going children, understand what the study means and whether there will be a boundary change.

“Right now there is a lot of fear and confusion and I think a lot of that is a lack of information and lack of engagement with the community,” said Stephen Austin after a board meeting held last week with superintend Jack Smith. Austin is a founder of the Facebook page, Neighbors for Local Schools.

Smith tried to set the record straight about what he said, is misinformation circulating in the community.

“I was at a meeting Monday morning when a person said 'Well what are you going to do about the fact that you’re moving students from Churchill to Silver Spring?'," he said.

"I’ve had that question hundreds of times and no one on this board or in the school system has said anything like that so that obviously was created somewhere else.”

That’s why the district has been holding community meetings about how the Districtwide Boundary Analysis works. 

The goal is to help MCPS better understand the impact, existing boundaries have on school overcrowding, student diversity and proximity to school.

The district said that contrary to misinformation that is circulating in the community, the final report will not include recommendations for boundary changes/student reassignment. MCPS did not request and will not accept any recommendations for boundary changes/student reassignment. MCPS will use the data and research in the report to inform future boundary studies.

Over the last 20 years, MCPS student enrollment has increased by more than 30,000 students. This growth has helped MCPS become one of the largest and most diverse districts in the nation. Unfortunately, facility construction has not been able to keep pace with this significant growth. The overcapacity of many schools, paired with our continued focus on equity and excellence, prompted the Board of Education to initiate an assessment of current school boundaries to ensure that MCPS can “continue to provide high-quality facilities that support the educational programming needed to reinforce MCPS’ core values.”

The analysis will result in an interactive online tool and a final report to the school system in June 2020. 

“These two sides cannot seem to agree and that’s puzzling to me," said Gene Novel of Germantown, "I mean listen to the tax payers.”

According to the school board, the consultants are being asked to look at what the impact of the study will be on diversity, the impact of diversity on school performance and whether the data and models they are using, be made available to the public.

“My wife might freak out if my kids had to go to Seneca valley instead,” said Bill Davidsen.

“Maybe give us a choice and let us decide,” said Danielle Johnson who wants her son to attend Northwest High School.

There is one more upcoming community meeting for members of the community to learn more and share their thoughts. That meeting will be held Jan. 23 at Walter Johnson High School 7 to 9 p.m.