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Harford Co. families fight redistricting

Posted at 5:47 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 23:31:45-04

BEL AIR, Md (WMAR) — "We’re fighting for our children to stay in this community that we chose," said Havre de Grace parent Lori Fawkes.

Fawkes and her husband chose to move to Havre de Grace for the community and the schools. And she’s glad they did. When her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Havre de Grace Elementary was there for them.

"He was very nervous about coming back to school and I can’t even tell you how amazing the school has been," said Fawkes.

So she, and other parents, are fighting to keep their kids there. Monday evening, Harford County families rallied outside the Board of Education ahead of their meeting, protecting the first redistricting scenario to balance enrollment.

Parents understand something needs to be done in schools across the county, but they don’t want it to be at the expense of their kids, and their community.

"We want our children to be able to experience and preserve small town community. That is why we moved here. That’s what we want to be a part of," said Havre de Grace parent Brooke Granger.

Harford County Public Schools hired an outside contractor to conduct a school boundary review because increased enrollment and special program needs has resulted in overcrowding in some schools while others are underutilized.

HCPS put together an advisory team that is currently evaluating and modifying the consultants initial springboard proposal for elementary schools to balance enrollment. It includes potential big changes for Havre de Grace.

"They decided to just take two neighborhoods and then just cut us out and put us to another school that is not part of our Havre de Grace community," said Granger.

Ashira Quabili had just settled on a house that would keep her kids at Havre de Grace Elementary School when the potential redistricting was announced.

"We love our teachers. We love all of the things about this school and this community and the idea of being torn away from that is truly a difficult pill to swallow," said Quabili.

Families from Ring Factory Elementary School in Bel Air are also fighting the proposal.

The county said in a statement 'Our top priority is to make boundary adjustments equitable and focus on students’ success.'

"We feel like they haven’t explored proper options in order to extend capacity at the schools that we call home," said Quabili.

This initial proposal is not final. Any new scenarios the advisory team comes up with will be released for public comment. They will also be taking a look at scenarios for middle and high school, with a community education forum in June. A final decision from the Board of Education isn’t expected until February.