Courtesy of Allison Jacobs
On Weds. Dec. 4, MCPS hosted a meeting at Gaithersburg High School to discuss the topic of redistricting. This was the first of six meetings planned to keep families up to date on the topic of redistricting, and the meeting was focused on phase one of the process. In phase one, MCPS is focused on data analysis and community awareness.
There are three phases in the process, with phase two focusing on testing ideas and metrics and phase three being the final report and presentation. The night focused strictly on phase one information, keeping parents updated on previous statistics and facts that MCPS currently know.
When people began arriving at Gaithersburg High School, they were directed to the cafeteria, where there were over 25 tables, each with a packet that had the information that was going to be discussed, a clicker to vote on polls, and a worksheet to fill out throughout the night.
“I was really impressed with how prepared MCPS was,” junior Katherine Yi said. “They had a lot of information for everyone to keep which I liked because I was able to reference it as the night when on.”
At the first 20 tables, there was a representative from MCPS, taking notes on the organized discussions that took place during the night. At the end of the night, the representative turned the note sheet into the leaders of the redistricting project. Also on the table was a reminder of how to have a civilized discussion and to be open to everyone’s opinions.
Cara Michell, a WXY representative, and Steve Brigham presented the information during the night. MCPS is working with WXY Architecture for the project, so there were representatives from both parties at the meeting. After Michell presented a specific section of the slideshow, Brigham introduced an organized discussion with questions provided by MCPS which would begin and take place for about ten minutes.
“I feel like they told us cool facts but they didn’t really provide any information about what is going to happen next with redistricting,” Yi said. “I wish they let people ask questions so they could address some specific concerns.”
Members were supposed to focus on the questions that were given by MCPS, however conversation often strayed away from what MCPS wanted to focus on and people began to talk about their personal opinions on the subject.
On both ends of the room, there were seven posters with simple statistics and an overview of MCPS’s plans for the overall redistricting process. Throughout the night, audience members were getting up to go look at the posters and read the information. The last poster was a large map of the current school clusters and this map was also printed out and placed on all the tables for people to look out as the presentation took place.
The meeting followed a strict schedule, starting at 7 pm and ending at 9 pm. People frustrated with the presentation left earlier, however the majority of the audience stayed until the end.
“Overall, I thought MCPS did a pretty good job,” Yi said. “I do wish I knew more about what is going to happen in the future, but they still gave us a foundation of what they are basing the redistricting off of.”