Montgomery County school board votes to redraw boundaries for 5 schools

A fight over school boundaries in Montgomery County came to a head Monday night. The school board has voted to redraw the boundaries of five schools, changing which schools hundreds of students feed into.

When the school district set out on the process of drawing boundaries for the future Richard Montgomery #5 Elementary School, officials realized the ratio of low-income students who qualify for free and reduced meals (FARMS rate) would have been 41.5 percent. Surrounding schools have a FARMS rate of anywhere from 10 to 17 percent. So the district set out to have the boundaries redrawn in an effort to more evenly distribute the district's low-income students.

At Monday night's meeting, dozens of parent showed up with signs reading "A" -- to reflect their support for Option A. Board members considered five choices. Option A was the most popular choice during the public comment period. It allowed for distribution of those students, but kept neighborhoods largely in tact.

Ultimately though, the school board chose Option B. The plan is similar to Option A in distribution, but cuts through neighborhoods to relieve overcrowding at some of schools.

Parents in attendance were not as upset about the result as they were about the journey to get to this point.

"This processes was deeply flawed," explained Justus Getty, who has a daughter at Beall Elementary School, but will go to Richard Montgomery #5 next year. "MCPS has admitted that they made numerous mistakes in their enrollment projections ... They conducted a boundary study for about six months and the results of that boundary study were essentially rendered moot, by the fact that they were proposing last minute boundary plans that have not been considered or commented on or reviewed by the public."

The school board said they offered up new boundary considerations because of the error they discovered in their calculations.

They also told FOX 5 hundreds of people weighed in during the new comment period, which took place over nearly two weeks.

The new boundaries will take effect for the 2018-2019 school year.

View the options the school board considered: