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Elementary school parents are speaking out against a redistricting plan that moves their children to a school where students perform more poorly on standardized tests.

Parents of students who reside in Autumn Hills in Waldorf oppose both redistricting plans for William A. Diggs Elementary School.

In both proposals, students residing in Autumn Hills move to C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School.

“Our children are going out of Berry to a school that is failing,” Sammichie Thomas, a Berry Elementary School parent, said Monday at a meeting held for Autumn Hills parents opposed to the redistricting.

Thomas, along with parents Lottie Hawkins and Carlos Elderidge, hosted the meeting Monday at the Comfort Inn Suites in Waldorf.

More than 50 Autumn Hills residents were in attendance and signed a petition against the proposals.

One of the parents’ main objection to the proposal has to do with Barnhart students not doing well on standardized tests.

In 2011, Barnhart failed to meet state standards for the second year in a row, according to results from the Maryland School Assessments.

The MSA is a test given to students in grades 3 through 8 in math and reading to satisfy requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Berry failed to meet the state standards in the special education category for math, but the school was not placed in any improvement status.

Because Barnhart failed to make required improvements in scores two years in a row and it is a designated Title I school, meaning it gets federal funding for technologies and resources because it has a high number of economically disadvantaged students, the school has been placed on school choice status.

Parents were given the option last summer to have their students go to another school, selected by the school system, that outperformed Barnhart.

In comparing the two schools based strictly on scores, Berry had 88.5 percent of its students proficient in reading last year and 84.8 percent of Berry students were proficient in math.

Barnhart’s scores indicate that 77.9 percent of its students are proficient in reading and 76.4 percent are proficient in math.

Redistricting is necessary at three schools to reduce overcrowding: Diggs, Mary B. Neal Elementary School and Theodore G. Davis Middle School, school officials said.

Redistricting the three schools also would balance school populations at surrounding schools.

A committee was formed to create two proposals for each school.

Alternative A for Diggs shows a reduction of 265 students at Diggs and a reduction of 66 students at Berry. The configuration adds 63 students to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, 60 students to Indian Head and 99 students to C. Paul Barnhart.

Redistricting at Diggs shows Alternative B reducing Diggs by 265 students.

Gaining students will be J.C. Parks, 109, Indian Head, 60, and C. Paul Barnhart, 99, and Berry reduces by three students.

Autumn Hills parents do not agree that while 40 families opted to leave the school, their children are being redistricted into the school, with no option.

“We would be very excited to welcome a new neighborhood of children to Barnhart,” Barnhart Principal Amy DiSabatino said.

DiSabatino said she would be glad to meet with parents to talk about the school and give a tour.

Barnhart, she said, is a “wonderful school.”

By moving the neighborhood to a more poorly performing school, parents expressed Monday that there will be a negative impact on their homes’ values.

Parents suggested Monday that schools that are performing poorly, or not meeting improvement goals called Adequate Yearly Progress not be included in the redistricting process.

In addition to not wanting their children to be placed at a more poorly performing school, parents also would like to see a moratorium on future redistricting of a particular neighborhood for a minimum of six years.

Currently, redistricting committees work under the policy that indicates redistricting committees should limit redistricting elementary and middle schools to once every three years, said Rich Wesolowski, director of transportation and co-chairman of the redistricting committee.

Understanding that redistricting becomes necessary over the years, Thomas said she would like to see better proposals.

If students have to leave Berry from Autumn Hills, she would like to see them at a school comparable in performance to the school the students are leaving.

Many parents agreed that if the students must be moved, they would like to see them moved to William B. Wade, also in walking distance of Autumn Hills.

Thomas said her opposition is not just about moving students, “it’s about academic success and keeping continuity.”

Roberta S. Wise, chairwoman for the Charles County Board of Education, declined to comment on parent concerns during a phone interview Tuesday. Wise said she is sticking to a comment she made earlier this month when she said the board would make a decision based on what is best for all students.

Parents plan to voice their opinions by protesting at the school system’s central office in La Plata on Thursday morning and by attending a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf.

gphillips@somdnews.com

Proposed William A. Diggs Alternate A

Moves from William A. Diggs Elementary School to J.C. Parks Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or directly off Billingsley Road between Fawn Lane and the Dutton Bridge.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3722.

Moves impact the Kingsview community.

Moves from J.C. Parks Elementary School to Indian Head Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or directly off Indian Head highway north between Hawthorne Road and Hungerford Road.

-All students along or directly off Indian Head highway south between Hawthorne and Mount Aventine Road.

-All subdivisions and communities within blocks 3541, 3551, 3561, 3571, 3681, and 3682.

Moves impact the following communities:

Potomac Heights, Chapman’s Landing and Laurel Acres.

Moves from William A. Diggs Elementary School to Berry Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or directly off Berry Road west between Community Drive and Briarwood Drive.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3782.

Moves impact the following communities:

Briarwood, Greenmont and Meadowland.

Moves from Berry Elementary School to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or diretly off Berry Road west between Community Drive and Buttonbush Drive.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3820.

Moves impact the following communities:

Hunt Club Estates; Fox Run and Westwood Estates.

Moves from Berry Elementary School to Paul C. Barnhart Elementary School include:

-All students residing directly off McDaniel Road between Smallwood Drive and Constitution Drive.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3818.

Proposed Diggs Alternate B

Moves from William A. Diggs to J.C. Parks Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or directly off Billingsley Road between Fawn Lane and the Dutton Bridge.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3722.

Moves impact the Kingsview community.

Moves from J.C. Parks to Indian Head Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or directly off Indian Head highway north between Hawthorne Road and Hungerford Road.

-All students along or directly off Indian Head highway south between Hawthorne and Mount Aventine Road.

-All subdivisions and communities within blocks 3541, 3551, 3561, 3571, 3681 and 3682.

Moves impact the following communities:

Potomac Heights, Chapman’s Landing and Laurel Acres.

Moves from William A. Diggs to Berry Elementary School include:

-All students residing along or directly off Berry Road west between Community Drive and Briarwood Drive.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3782.

Moves impact the following communities:

Briarwood, Greenmont, and Meadowland.

Moves from Berry to Paul C. Barnhart Elementary School include:

-All students residing along directly off McDaniel Road between Smallwood Drive and Constitution Drive.

-All subdivisions and communities within Block 3818.

SOURCE: Charles County Public Schools