The Other Shoe: LMSD Redistricting and Gladwyne
In all the understandable outrage over the school redistricting-that-isn't-really that has managed to rip apart two of our most cohesive and historic communities, people may have noticed the other reason this redistricting plan is a complete failure that serves no one in the township except those wanting the 'status quo': The redistricting, done to equalize enrollment at Harriton High School and to offer equalized educational experiences - in other words, same opportunity at HHS as LMHS, doesn't accomplish this by a country mile. To put it plainly, Gladwyne got screwed too.
Consider that on the District's 'redistricting' home page, it says:
Plan 3 R does NOT in any way equalize enrollment of either the two high schools or the two middles - the primary reason that this redistricting was undertaken. Instead, we get a plan that looks like this per the District's Dec 15 presentation:
2008-09 LM 1470, HHS 798
Now, this ASSUMES that IB will continue to draw students, at least 61 people from Merion, Penn Wynne, and Bala Cynwyd will continue to choose HHS over LMHS, and that a new, completely unvetted 'draw' program in conjunction with Penn State that's never been done anywhere before that the Curriculum Committee hasn't even seen yet or approved will also draw at least 10 students a year.
Wow. That's amazing. These numbers are about as solid as Bernie Madoffs', aren't they?
On top of it, now what the District is promising is "core curriculum parity" - meaning, both high schools will have the same core curriculum. Um, we have that now? Always have? The problem has always been in the electives and co-curriculars. Harriton does not have as many electives offered, nor to they have as many sections of an elective. For example, LMHS may have 5 sections of AP Chemistry, and 5 of AP Physics, Harriton will only have 1 section of AP Chemistry which is also offered at the same time as AP Physics. As a result, Harriton students don't get the opportunity to take both while LMHS students do.
The District refuses to promise this equality any longer, even though this was why we did this whole redistricting process to begin with. They've said they need a minimum 1000 students enrolled before they can guarantee elective and co-curricular parity, which this plan doesn't deliver for FIVE YEARS at best, assuming their Madoff numbers pan out.
So, at the end of the day, Harriton remains less academically rich than LMHS for at least five years, if not longer. There's no real incentive to fix the enrollment disparity before 2014 or ever b/c both buildings can easily hold 1600 students, meaning that if the 61+ students that the plan needs fail to show up there'll be plenty of room for them at LMHS.
Oh yeah, and the middle schools? The District has not presented updated enrollments - I think they want us to forget. They have changed their tune to insist only that neither Welsh Valley or Bala Cynwyd are 'over capacity'. By all estimates, BC though will have 150-175 more students than Welsh Valley. How is that equal?
It might not be so bad if the District had actually reached the objective it set out for - and has spent over $200 M creating facilities for. That they didn't is not only a failure of the public trust, it should be a crime. Our taxpayers, our residents and our children deserve far better. We must demand better than this.