MCPS Plans School Boundary Analysis

by Sarah Nove ’20

Last January, The Board of Education adopted a resolution introduced by former SMOB Ananya Tadikonda, which called for a re-evaluation of school boundaries across the county. According to MCPS’s website, the Board will use external consultants to “conduct an in-depth review and analysis of how existing school and cluster boundaries support or impede the effective use of school facilities.”

The consultants will begin the boundary analysis this winter and plan to present their report to the Board around Spring 2020. The study itself will not alter boundaries, but the findings could influence or potentially prompt future changes. Proponents of the boundary study hope it will highlight necessary changes to school attendance zones and motivate MCPS to address the lack of funding, space, diversity, and resources that impact many schools in the county. 

“Examining the possibility of altering the boundaries for [MCPS] schools can present opportunities for progress toward ensuring that all students are able to reap the significant benefits of attending school with a diverse student body, and having class sizes that allow time and space for enhanced educational experiences,” stated Tadikonda in her resolution.

In public meetings that discussed the boundary assessment last April, participants were asked what they thought were the “greatest concerns among parents about the current attendance zones.” Participants, answering in groups, wrote their answers on posters, many of which detailed concerns about inequality and “de facto segregation” in MCPS. Some cited examples such as the “W” Schools––Whitman, Wootton, Walter Johnson and Winston Churchill––and other schools located in wealthier areas that receive more donations from parents than schools in low income areas. 

Another concern listed on many posters involved the possible impact of changing school assignments on the lives of students and their families. One group of participants worried that “parents who bought homes for school stability [will be] concerned about the prospect of uprooting their kids;” another feared an increase in transportation costs for parents and schools should bus routes change dramatically. However, MCPS emphasized in various statements that the upcoming analysis is not a recommendation or a cause for immediate changes.

“Neither the analysis nor the report can authorize a boundary study,” said Superintendent Jack Smith in Bethesda Magazine. “What it can do is help us be more informed to understand how to best use our facilities and use attendance zones around schools.”