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Marks Asks School System to Revisit Magnet Rule Change

Under new rules, siblings of magnet elementary students won't automatically be given priority enrollment.

County Councilman is asking the Baltimore County Board of Education to reconsider its recently-reworked policies on magnet admissions.

Under a rule change adopted in April, the school system ended the policy of automatically granting magnet admissions to incoming kindergarteners whose siblings already attend the school (starting with the 2015-2016 school year).

Additionally, an unstated policy gave admissions priority to students who live near the school, but Marks said that appears to have changed as well.

"There may be good reasons to make a change in the name of countywide equity and fairness, but there are also solid arguments for retaining the current policy," Marks wrote in the letter to outgoing Superintendent Joe Hairston dated Tuesday.

Towson's lone elementary magnet program is at the . Many of its students live in the nearby Campus Hills neighborhood. Marks expressed concern in the letter that the system disregarded the environmental and social impacts of no longer allowing children from Campus Hills priority to attend Cromwell Valley, and no longer giving priority to siblings of magnet students. Check out the letter attached to this story.

Ending priority enrollment for children from those neighborhoods was a "judgment call," Marks said in an interview, made without "meaningful input by those affected by the policy change."

"My big concern is just the timing," Marks said. "And I don't know why this was done with the superintendent going out the door."

Hairston is set to retire on June 30.

In a on Patch, Cromwell Valley PTA president Tom Irwin said the rule change would inconvenience magnet parents in years to come.

"This means, if you have a child at a magnet school and your younger child is not admitted via random lottery, you will be forced to either take your older child out of the school they've attended in previous years or send your elementary age children to two separate schools," Irwin wrote.

Michael Middleton June 14, 2012 at 02:21 PM
They may have had more concern if our County Executive had allowed a partially elected board to be enacted, rather than blocking the initiative so he could keep his appointments.
Michael Middleton June 14, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Thanks to David for taking up this issue! I'm not sure what the board is trying to fix or improve here. The lottery system makes the magnet program as fair as it can be. One could argue that the magnet program isn't fair enough, and needs to be done away with. From what I can see the program, while not perfect, works, and does what it was intended to do. I think a board member would hesistate to remove or change a program that produces good results. In the case of sibling preference, it's not about annoyance. CVE is a collection of families who are interested enough to at least fill out and track the application (we knew several parents from the home school who couldn't be bothered to go that far) and be involved in not only their children's education, but the PTA and the school. While the faculty and staff are fantastic, so was the faculty and staff at our home school, and I'm sure the other feeders also. With the technology aspect - the speciality part of CVE's magnet program - I just glanced at Rodgers Forge's page and am actually a little upset. They seem to be getting as much if not more in the way of "tech" than CVE. Your child attending CVE does not guarantee success. As a parent, I could not devote as much time as I do to two schools, when the time I have for one is limited as it is. Forcing families to split their time and efforts between schools does nothing to improve or fix any of the percieved problems with the school system or magnet program.
Michael F June 16, 2012 at 12:26 PM
So if I live across the street from CVE, and I have 2 children at CVE now, and I have 4 more kids that will go there, now all of a sudden they can not. Now the rest will have to be bused to Hampton. Yes, that's logical?
Chimein June 17, 2012 at 01:21 PM
You make a huge assumption that all children come from families with more than one child in the Baltimore County Public School System. By eliminating sibling priority, it makes more openings available for children who do not have siblings. Are you saying that only parents with more than one child are vested in the school and volunteer? It is a sad state of affairs when so many parents are fighting over this one little school that is performing well. Most magnet schools are neighborhood schools as well, in the county. This is an exception. All of this effort put into fighting over sibling priority could be better used toward improving your neighborhood schools so you may feel more comfortable with your child going there. It couldn’t hurt.
Lily June 18, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Chimein, I don't think anyone is saying that single child families don't volunteer. However when a new family enters a school it takes a bit of a learning curve to figure out how things are done and how they should be done to get the best result. It's a significant advantage to a PTA to have families that have stayed with the school for 10-15 years. This issue for the lottery isn't one of setting up a policy that prefers one demographic or another. It's one of access vs sustainability. It would be awesome if the county would expand the magnet program such that everyone who wanted to go could. It's certainly possible. The whole county isn't applying for the magnet program. The only reason this sibling rule is an issue is because people are fighting for a resource that has been successful and so there is more demand. Everyone could be satisfied if the magnet program were expanded so that it had a greater number of seats. I don't see the logic in threatening the stability of a successful program in order to create a false perception of greater access.

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