MCPS moves to second phase of boundary analysis as release of interim report nears

MCPS moves to second phase of boundary analysis as release of interim report nears

Virtual town hall meeting for students will be held Thursday

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Untitled design (45)

A map of MCPS schools and clusters.

VIA WXY ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN

With about a week before an interim report is to be released to the public, consultants hired to review school boundaries throughout Montgomery County are moving into the second phase of the analysis.

WXY Architecture + Urban Design’s interim report, expected to include a summary of data and findings gathered so far, will be released to the public by the end of February, according to MCPS spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala.

That date differs from what was outlined in the school district’s request for proposals, which said the report would be released by Feb. 15.

The request for proposals (RFP) is a guiding document, Onijala said, and the project plan has evolved since the RFP was issued in July, a sentiment other MCPS officials have reiterated in recent months. 

“What has been said to the community at the meetings and by school board members at the board table is still true. The report will come out at the end of February and that has not changed,” Onijala said.

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted in January 2019 to hire a consultant to conduct a review of all MCPS school boundaries. The goal, board members say, is to evaluate how current boundaries “support or impede” students’ access to diverse schools, schools that aren’t crowded, and schools within walking distance of their homes.

It has been a tense process as community members voice a wide range of opinions and perspectives.

The school board will receive a briefing about the analysis and the interim report at one of its meetings. A date for that briefing has not been set, Onijala said.

Meanwhile, WXY has moved into its second phase of the analysis, beginning “targeted outreach meetings” with “hard to reach communities.”

One meeting has been held recently with some Spanish-speaking residents, and a virtual town hall meeting for students is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.

Consultants and MCPS are expected to hold other community meetings, albeit at a smaller scale than what was executed during the first phase of the study, Onijala said.

In the first phase, there were six community meetings, each attended by hundreds of people. They featured a presentation about the history of MCPS and the study. Later meetings had question-and-answer sessions.

In Phase 2 meetings, community members can test an “interactive tool” that consultants developed. It will allow community members to visualize how potential boundary changes might look and how those changes might affect a school.

That tool will be available at public meetings, but will not be available online. Onijala said the mapping tool could be available online later when the analysis is completed, but that decision has not yet been made.

WXY is scheduled to release its final report in June.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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