The school board unanimously overturned an earlier decision to move approximately 140 Bowie students from Whitehall Elementary School to Kenilworth after consideration of an emergency agenda item during last night's school board meeting. The vote was in response to updated student capacity numbers at both schools as well as concern by the board that the affected neighborhoods will be subject to another boundary change when the Fairwood Elementary School opens in 2011.
The board previously voted to change the boundaries based on recommendations from School Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite Jr. Hite suggested that the board allow some of the affected parents to transfer their children back to Whitehall Elementary School rather than reversing the boundary changes. Instead, the board's decision will keep the students at Whitehall, but some parents can request to have their children transferred to Kenilworth on an individual basis.
It's unlikely that the second boundary change vote would have taken place without the efforts of parents Sandy Short and Nancy Adamson. The duo have been working for months writing e-mails, making calls, researching capacity guidelines, measuring classrooms, speaking at meetings and even appearing on a local Bowie community cable television program. They wanted to get out the word that the boundary changes didn't make sense. Short attributes the new board decision to the help of Prince George's County School Board Chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs, the support of the City of Bowie, and the tireless fact finding efforts of Adamson who discovered the erroneous capacity numbers. Short was also grateful that City of Bowie Community Outreach Specialist Leni Stern spoke at last night's meeting on behalf of the parents.
Parents of Kenilworth Elementary School students became concerned in recent weeks when they discovered that some of the programs at the school would be affected and at least one trailer would have to be purchased to accommodate the extra students. Parents also learned that indoor physical education classes were going to take place in the same classrooms where students learn reading, writing and arithmetic. "The kids would be trying to do jumping jacks without hitting their desks," Short speculated.
The board's reversal comes after preparations already began for the transfer. Parents and teachers had already been notified, student records were being transfered, and administrators had already started preparing for the the new students at Kenilworth Elementary. New letters will soon be sent to parents, and teacher assignments will be reconsidered.