Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Print this Article

Fewer people turned out, but most had similar thoughts during the second of two public hearings on redistricting proposals for Charles County high schools.

The proposals create an attendance zone for St. Charles High School and balance enrollment for the county’s six other high schools.

St. Charles High is set to open on Piney Church Road in Waldorf in 2014 with grades 9, 10 and 11.

Superintendent James E. Richmond will make a recommendation on one of the two proposals created by a 16-member redistricting committee or select a modified version of the proposals.

Richmond will make his recommendation next month, but first, he and the Charles County Board of Education heard from the public.

About 35 parents, students and community members spoke Monday night at North Point High School, and 10 signed up to speak at La Plata High School on Tuesday evening.

Yvonne Gaffney, a parent of a student currently attending John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf, said Tuesday that her son was not accepted into the science, technology and industry program at North Point but that she was happy that he is currently zoned for Thomas Stone High School, which has a similar industry program he could take.

Redistricting could move her son to St. Charles High, which she said will probably be a great school, but it doesn’t have the ProStart program for food service management that Stone is starting next year.

She said if similar programs were at all schools, “I wouldn’t have to worry about this.”

Lisa Creason of Hughesville suggested the school system look into adding community cohesion and continuity as a factor when creating zones for schools.

She said the families in the surrounding streets where she lives often rely on one another for support and rides for children. Rezoning affects some streets but not others and breaks up that community cohesion.

Hunter Longhi, a student at Matthew Henson Middle School, is looking to not get broken away from North Point, where he is currently zoned to go.

Hunter said he was part of the last redistricting process, when he was rezoned from Theodore G. Davis to Henson, and with the new redistricting, he might spend one year at North Point and then, depending on the proposal chosen, be moved to Maurice J. McDonough High School.

If he is moved, McDonough would be the seventh school he will have attended in the school system, he said.

North Point freshman Matthew Essing is looking to stay at the Waldorf school, but both options A and B would move his neighborhood to McDonough.

Essing participates in three sports at North Point and is not looking forward to having to start over at a new school his junior year.

He said junior year is a time to hunker down and focus on the future.

“As a student, I can’t imagine having to go to a new school, new coaches and having to make new friends all in the junior year when much of your future is determined,” he said.

Essing asked the school board to imagine themselves in the same situation at 16 and then asked that they consider not moving the junior class.

Consideration for current freshmen who would be moved in their junior year was requested at both meetings.

North Point student Sydney Gates said, “Junior year is the most important year of all in high school. Here, students really buckle down and start to take charge of their future. They start taking college decisions seriously, and here, students take some of the most important tests of their life. Since I was little, I have been drilled about the importance of tests and how dramatically they can impact your future. If students aren’t focused when they move to the new school, how will we do well on tests?”

Gates is in the STI program at North Point and will not be moving schools.

She encouraged the board not to move her friends or the students in the Bensville corridor area west of Waldorf because the high school zone for that area has moved three times in 15 years.

The public can submit written comments until May 1 to have their comments on the record prior to Richmond’s recommendation to the board May 11.

A public hearing on Richmond’s recommendation is set for 6:30 p.m. May 20 at Westlake High School in Waldorf.