On Tuesday, Sept. 17, nearly 200 Howard County residents gathered outside the school system’s central office building in protest of the county’s redistricting plan.
In August, Howard County Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano proposed to adjust the boundaries of where students would attend school. The redistricting would move over 7,000 students in the hopes of spreading out students more evenly in schools in the county.
They hope to reduce overcrowding, balance the poverty rate across schools, and establish a road map for students that will attend the county’s upcoming thirteenth high school.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Martriano said, “this [proposal] is a true example of equity in action, looking at our capacity and our poverty rate so children all across the school system can receive an equitable education.”
However, many residents, students, parents, and teachers are against the proposition, and showed up at the Board of Education hearing to voice their opposition.
One Mt. Hebron freshman, Alyssa Renew, was one of the 69 community members who spoke at the hearing. If redistricted, Renew would attend Marriotts Ridge, making her commute four times longer than her current commute to Mt Hebron. It would mean she’d have to wake up earlier, she’d return home from school later, would have less time at home to do school work and less opportunity for her to participate in after school activities. Renew expressed these concerns in her testimony.
“Without traffic or bus stops, it would take 16 minutes to drive to Marriotts Ridge,” Renew said. “It would only take me five minutes to drive to Mt Hebron, my current school.”
Another Mt Hebron student, sophomore Nicholas Yarnevich, who would also attend Marriotts Ridge if the redistricting goes into effect, said that he was worried about the shift in environment that would come with changing schools.
“I’m used to this current environment at Hebron, and I would have to switch instantly to new teachers and new people, I would have to make new friends.” Yarnevich said.
The hearing on Tuesday evening is the first of what is currently to be three hearings over the next three weeks. The second hearing is taking place on the evening of Sept. 24. The Board of Education is set to come to a consensus by Nov. 21 that will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.