After hearing a report from my husband and reviewing the literature that he brought home, I am appalled at the how the "Southwestern Boundary Study" meeting held at Greenbriar West ES this evening was conducted. In short, it was a supreme disappointment. It was not an open forum, nor were there opportunities for attendees to get questions addressed. Some of our questions (which were never answered by FCPS representatives at the meeting) include:
1. If my child attends a school impacted by the proposed boundary changes (and would normally be forced to switch to another school), will he/she be allowed to remain at the elementary school until he/she moves on to middle school?
2. If my child is allowed to remain at a school impacted by the proposed boundary changes, will his/her younger sibling be allowed to attend the same school? Essentially, will my children's attendance be "grandfathered" at the original school?
3. If my child(ren) is(are) forced to attend another school, will their SACC enrollment at their current school be honored, or will we be forced onto a waitlist behind children already attending the new school, even though we have been forced to change schools against our will?
4. When will the FCPS Board respond openly and honestly about their intentions to redraw boundaries for the middle and high schools?
5. How does the FCPS Board expect to address existing overcrowding issues? None of the "options" presented addressed this core issue.
6. Why didn't the FCPS Board inform the leadership of the schools affected that their schools were going to be directly impacted by the proposed boundary changes? For example, the leadership of Poplar Tree Elementary School was not aware that PTES would be directly impacted by these proposed changes.
7. Why didn't the FCPS Board inform the parents before Friday that their neighborhoods would be directly impacted by the proposed changes?
I expected that FCPS Board members would provide community members with an opportunity to ask questions regarding the Boundary Survey. I expected that, in one of the richest school districts in the country, information would be made more available to parents and educators. However, the meeting was nothing more than a group think multiple choice test parading as "community dialogue" survey. Attendees were ASSIGNED to specific tables. The instructions provided were as follows:
- Each table should select a facilitator and recorder and evaluate the three preliminary boundary changes and options introduced in the presentation.
- If you have a question, please raise a white index card if it regards facilities and transportation issues and a blue index card for any other question. A meeting assistant will direct a staff member to your table to answer your question.
- The facilitator should keep the group's discussion focused on the evaluation of the three options.
- The recorder should take notes of your table's responses to the preliminary boundary changes and options.
- Your group should rate each of the three preliminary options - from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) and submit your results and the sign-in sheet prior to leaving.
Groups were required to reach a consensus, and information provided to the groups was extremely limited. In other words, individual responses were NOT tolerated. Questions asked by group members were responded to with very bland and uninformative answers. If the FCPS Board was looking to get Option C supported by the community, they certainly succeeded; it was the least horrible option and groups were effectively peer pressured toward supporting it. Again, this was not a "community dialogue" - it was a group think multiple choice test.
Here are pictures of the questionnaire that groups were instructed to complete.
According to the information passed out to meeting attendees, "Feedback from the six boundary meetings will be posted on the Southwestern Boundary Study website at http://www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/southwesternstudy/index.htm. I encourage all parents, whether or not you feel you're impacted by this situation, to keep checking on the meeting feedback in order to identify whether or not our voices are being heard.
The handling of this "boundary survey" has been broken from the beginning. Parents feel that the Board has been deceitful and underhanded in their actions. The FCPS Board must respond to these concerns swiftly, completely and transparently.