Redlining, Lack Of Participation Among Board Of Education's Concerns Over Boundary Study Map Recommendation


Map Option E, as submitted by the Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study Committee. (Credit: Cropper GIS/ Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study Committee)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - During a meeting on Tuesday, the Baltimore County Board of Education expressed concerns, including redlining over the map recommended by the Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study.

The board of education is tasked with making the final decision on how to alleviate overcrowding at Baltimore County middle schools. They are in the process of considering the map recommendation made by the Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study Committee.

The study's goal was to allocate students to a new middle school in the northeast area that will replace Golden Ring Middle School. The committee also sought to maintain the diversity of the student body and ensure minimal disruption of school boundaries.

After months of debate, community outreach, and data analysis, the committee submitted map option E to the board of education.

During their first meeting considering the proposal, board members expressed concerns over the recommendation vote, school board overreach, and redlining.

At the meeting, board member Maggie Litz Domanowsk questioned the validity of the recommendation due to the low participation in the final vote. Only 21 of the 31 eligible committee members voted on the final submission. BCPS representatives clarified that it is rare for all committee members to be present at any given meeting.

Robin L. Harvey, vice chair of the board, questioned the definition of "community" used by the study. Matthew Cropper, CEO of Cropper GIS, the consulting firm contracted to aid in the study, told the vice chair that the definition was "fluid" and that the goal was to avoid dividing school zones down residential streets.

"We're trying to keep students who play together after school and people who socialize together within their neighborhoods," Cropper said.

Board member Brenda Savoy posed the most shocking question. She asked Cropper if he was familiar with redlining and if the proposed map would contribute to educational segregation.

Cropper stated that the map does not "redline" neighborhoods but noted that the boundary study considered socioeconomic factors in its recommendation.

Board member Maggie Domanowski said that the study "missed the mark" by allowing the interests of smaller communities to be overshadowed by vocal advocacy groups.

Tuesday's closed board meeting was the first step in the boundary approval process. The Board's public hearing on the recommended boundary change is scheduled to be held on May 17 at Parkville High School.

The Board will vote on the final map at its June 13 meeting.

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So, the recommended Option E would increase Loch Raven Academy to be 85% minority by moving 5% of white families to Dumbarton MS. No school in this diverse and overcrowded area should be mostly made up of one demographic and under capacity. That is poor planning. That is a waste of resources. That is textbook Redlining at its worst.

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