Photo Courtesy of Dani Miller
The Montgomery County Board of Education held a hearing Jan. 7 to discuss potentially changing the boundaries for each of its 206 schools. The move was proposed as a solution to the disparity in socioeconomic status between various schools and clusters. However, some are worried that it will have several consequences on affected students, including longer bus rides and impacts on education.
The hearing resulted in the implementation of a countywide study observing the demographic makeup and the potential impacts of boundary changes for each school in the district. The study will be conducted by an outside consultant and will look at additional issues such as overcrowding.The resolution was supported by a testimony from Michael Solomon, a current junior at Springbrook High School and president of the activist group MoCo Students for Change.
“The passing of this resolution is a very significant step,” Solomon said. “We cannot ask the Board of Education to take spontaneous action on things like this. A comprehensive study is the logical thing to do.”
The main issue Montgomery County is suspected to have is a gap in educational quality and rigor from school to school. When comparing opposite sides of the county, differences in average grades are evident. The belief is that this is caused by socioeconomic factors affecting separate areas of the county.
“[The study] will give us important data and opinions on what to do next, so we are not reaching at this situation blindly,” Solomon said.
With a spring 2020 deadline, the data will provide more insight on the situation. While the intentions of the resolution are good, some students and parents are worried about what it means for the future of their area’s education. Among the most pressing concerns is the potential for a longer commute, as well as a possible decrease in the quality of student’s education.
“I drive myself to school every day,” junior Evyenia Zoulis said. “Future MCPS students may find that as a less viable option if they have to use more time and money getting to where they need to be on a daily basis.”
The other demographic most worried about are families with younger children who recently moved into Montgomery County. Some fear that the education they wanted for their children is at stake.
The ideal Montgomery County is one where every school is at the same high level of success, and it is a hope that this resolution advances. How the changing of district lines would work and the short term consequences of the process are not well understood and are worrying many. The planned study will provide insightful data on these issues and more in the coming years.