Billy Boniface, Republican Candidate for Harford County Executive, has released the following statement regarding Board of Education proposals to alter the attendance areas of many elementary, middle, and high schools:

Billy Boniface Harford County Executive - Rethink RedistrictingI have concerns about the proposals being developed to reallocate students to different schools as part of HCPS’s “Balancing Enrollment” initiative.

Instead of seeking to balance enrollment, the school system should be focused on alleviating any cases of overcrowding. While the goal of balanced enrollment sounds great, surely it does not outweigh the disruption caused by reallocating a large number of students to different schools. Except where entirely unavoidable, no student should be moved from a school that is projected to remain under capacity for the foreseeable future.

County-wide redistricting is both disruptive and unnecessary. It is also understandably a source of added stress for students and parents during a time when they’ve had to bear the burden of things like mask mandates, the lack of customary extra-curricular activities, and “virtual learning” formats of questionable necessity.

Also of concern to me are proposals that would divide long-standing communities and send students to different schools. One example is the proposal to divide the village of Churchville down the middle along Route 136, sending students living to the east of that line to Aberdeen Middle and High School instead of their current schools of Southampton Middle and C. Milton Wright High. In this case, none of the four schools involved are at capacity, nor are they projected to be in the coming years.

In fact, no high schools, and only two middle schools (Bel Air and Patterson Mill) are over capacity according to school system statistics. Given that, it seems to me that county-wide redistricting of secondary schools is a solution in search of a problem.

I ask that the school system’s redistricting committee, and ultimately the Board of Education, refrain from dividing communities, and to not shift the attendance area boundaries of schools that are not at or near capacity. I will be sharing my concerns with members of the Board of Ed, and I urge citizens to contact their elected representative on the Board and to stay engaged throughout this process.