Mar 7, 2015 Redistricting Updates

Redistricting is happening now.  Over the next month and a half, the policy will be presented, discussed, revised and voted on.  If you have an opinion on this, now is the time to speak up!  By now, we mean this week, next at the latest after you’ve watched/reviewed the March 10th School Board  Meeting (attend in person, stream it live or watch a video the next day).

WHAT IT MEANS FOR CHARLES BARRETT

At least 35% of our population resides out of the Charles Barrett district.  Redistricting will undeniably affect them.  Depending on where borders fall, families currently within the Barrett district may find themselves at another school.  And depending on the demographics need to balance the schools, a chunk of Barrett could be carved out and sent elsewhere.  As a result, that 35% could climb to 50% of our school population.

Eliminating and replacing half of our population is huge.  New students will arrive not knowing anything about Barrett’s unique programs – PBIS and CETA for example.  Administration estimates that it takes over a year to fully “Barrettize” students.  Teachers will have to take time out the school day to focus on this.  Barrettized students will sit through this repetitive training, valuable educational time lost.  New student demographics surely mean staff changes as a result.  We’ll have to Barrettize the new staff.  Losing half of the population means losing a lot of involved parents.  New parents are from coming schools that presumably they didn’t want to leave.  Will they be as invested in Barrett?  If not, the great working relationship that the school and the PTA has will suffer.  Will PTA involvement decline, will fundraising decline, will we have to cut programs as a result?  The first to go may be the amazing capital investment that we make in our school – Smartboards, iPad, teacher mini-grants, discretionary checks.  This year, we will invest more than $15,000 on these things.  What if this were cut out?  Will our children suffer?

Thinking specifically about certain groups of transfer students, how will this affect them?  Some students came to Barrett because their boundary school (the school that they are zoned for) was not meeting their needs and they were lagging behind.  Once they came to Barrett, they often caught up to their grade.  Do we send them back to a school that doesn’t help them succeed?  What about families who have multiple children at Barrett?  Do you allow the 4th grader to stay for his last 2 years, but send the 1st grader to the boundary school?  How about Modified Open Enrollment students who were enrolled in Barrett when their local school was full.  Do we now force them to go back?  As change is disruptive for kids, how can we minimize it and help every child succeed?

WE NEED TO ACT NOW

The School Board is always interested in hearing from more people.  Please email them your comments this week or next (board@acps.k12.va.us will go to the entire board) or sign-up to speak at a school board meeting(www.acps.k12.va.us/board/meetings/).  I’m not a huge fan of public speaking, but I’ve requested time at both the 3/10 and 4/7 meeting.  Come join me!  If you need more time to form a strong argument, please tune in to the 3/10 meeting (7 pm, live in person at 1340 Braddock Place, live streaming from the website, live via Channel 71 or view the video online after 3/11).

Chairman Karen Graf has also offered to set up a meeting or information session for our community.  Please let Anna Jaeger know by March 11  if you’re interested in this and she will arrange it.

DETAILS FROM THE SCHOOL BOARD

The policy decisions surrounding redistricting are the responsibility of the School Board.  The best way to engage is by following the School Board meetings, and by contacting the members of the School Board, in particular the School Board members who are serving on the Redistricting Committee (emails below)

No final decisions will be made at the March 10 meeting regarding any of the Redistricting policies. It will be the first time the Board will be able to convene as a group to begin the process of reviewing proposed language for the policies. It is an opportunity for the School Board members to pose questions, request additional information, and provide feedback they have received from members of the community. From these discussions, the staff will be able to make further revisions or draft other options. The school board has a practice of seeing policies three times before it can be voted.  The earliest that these policies could be voted on would be at the April 21st meeting. However, because redistricting is a high profile project, some policies could take longer than others. Our goal is to work through it all by June.

As we move through this process, the questions we receive from the community will not only inform the work of the School Board and staff, they will be used to help create an FAQ, specifically focused around the questions related to redistricting policies. The first is scheduled to go up early next week (week of 3/7), with additions and revisions to be made as we move through the process.

All work sessions of the School Board and School Board meetings are open to the public. You can view the proceeding live either via television channel 71 or streaming from the website. http://www.acps.k12.va.us/board/meetings/    Video recordings of these meetings are available from the website the day following a meeting.

KEY DATES

  • 3/10, 7pm – School Board Meeting, Board Room, 1340 Braddock Place
  • 4/7, 7pm – School Board Meeting, 1340 Braddock Place
  • 4/21, 7pm – School Board Meeting, 1340 Braddock Place – earliest date that policies could be voted on.

Board plans to have a decision by June

* Agendas are posted online the Friday before the Thursday meeting.

LINKS

School Zone Map – http://www.acps.k12.va.us/enroll/zone_map.pdf
School Board Meetings – view meeting schedule, watch video of past meetings, sign up to speak at a meeting – http://www.acps.k12.va.us/board/meetings/
Live Televised Meetings – Channel 71
Email the entire School Board – board@acps.k12.va.us
Email the Redistricting Steering Committee:

Sign Up To Speak at a School Board Meeting – http://www.acps.k12.va.us/board/meetings/

INFORMATIONAL DOCUMENTS