Over the past 20 years, enrollment in MCPS has increased by over 30,000 students, making MCPS one of the largest and most diverse counties in the nation. However, facility construction has not kept pace with this growth. In order to ensure MCPS could maintain its high-quality facilities of education, the boundary analysis plan was introduced.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Montgomery County School Board of Education authorized a $276,800 plan to create and improve the data tool connected to boundary analysis. The improved tool consists of an interactive, comprehensive online data dashboard of the schools in Montgomery County to examine the existing conditions of the school in the county.
The goals of this plan are to understand school clusters; reinforce MCPS’s core values of learning, respect, excellence, and equity; provide a comprehensive assessment of MCPS school boundaries considering county growth; and receive community feedback on the challenges of creating diverse schools through the use of surveys.
The main focus is on utilization, the ratio of enrolled students to the total capacity of the school; proximity, the average travel time for the students attending the school; and diversity, dependent on race and ethnicity, socioeconomic background and English language proficiency.
This “interactive boundary explorer”, built by WXY Architecture + Urban Design, a New York City-based architecture firm that is conducting the boundary analysis, allows for a more interactive user experience. The new dashboard will allow for cross-analyzation of schools’ information, such as enrollments, demographics, energy use, proximity and class-size. It will also allow users to download all of the data into a spreadsheet, a step up from the separate PDFs currently available on the MCPS website.
Freshman Vedhika Anand from Clarksburg High School believes this new plan and tool are very important to be able to maintain the quality of education in Montgomery County. She also expressed her concerns about handling sensitive data. “It’s a good way to analyze and solve this problem of lacking infrastructure; however, they need to be careful with the data they’re getting. Lots of personal information is being used,” Anand said.
When asked which of the three focuses of analysis was most important, she responded utilization. “One of their main goals is to ensure MCPS can maintain its high quality of education, so ensuring there are enough facilities for everyone to get a sufficient education is very important,” Anand said.
This boundary analysis will allow the education quality within Montgomery County to be maintained and even increased. Using the tool, more or fewer students, dependent on the statistics, can be assigned to another school and boundaries can be redrawn for better allocation of resources if needed. Needs for different schools, diversity issues, under crowding and overcrowding can be immediately recognized and solved, further improving the MCPS education system.