www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/ph-tt-idlewylde-meeting-0619-20130617,0,2166622.story

baltimoresun.com

Idlewylde residents unite over worries of redistricting

Parents seek assurances kids will stay in Towson schools

By Jon Meoli, jmeoli@tribune.com

10:06 PM EDT, June 17, 2013

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Hundreds of Idlewylde residents filled the Towson community's hall Monday evening to organize efforts to ensure they remain a part of Towson's school districts.

"If there's any question of redistricting, we have to formulate a response," said Jamie Kass, president of the Idlewylde Community Association. "There's no waiting because there's no telling what could happen.

"If we wait for a response, it could be a done deal before we have an opportunity to," Kass said. "We're proactive to the community concerns ... and coming together so we have a plan of action when we need it."

The meeting was called in response to unease after a second meeting on school overcrowding took place in Towson last Wednesday. BCPS officials said during that meeting that redistricting was one option of many as they seek to solve overcrowding issues and improve the school infrastructure.

Currently, the Idlewylde community is zoned for Stoneleigh Elementary. During last Wednesday's meeting, residents sought assurances from school officials that they would remain districted for Towson schools, but no assurances could be given because BCPS leaders said no firm plans existed.

"We really cannot be more open and honest about the fact that we do not have a plan around the buildings … or the redistricting impact of all of this," BCPS Chief Communications Officer Mychael Dickerson said early in the day on Monday. "We really don't have a plan yet, that's why we're doing these community input sessions."

During the Idlewylde meeting, Councilman David Marks emphasized that there was no firm plan in place but agreed with the community's intentions in keeping its school district intact. He said coming together was a good starting point in the process.

"You're doing exactly the right thing you should be doing, getting organized," Marks told those in attendance. "If there's no redistricting ever, you're going to be a stronger community for having that network."

During the meeting, the community formed a 12-member committee to represent Idlewylde in its efforts to lobby elected officials and the school board.

John Keenan, treasurer of the community association, emphasized that Idlewylde "would not go quietly" if the neighborhood was redistricted out of Towson schools and into underperforming schools which, he said, would lower property values.

Keenan suggested a class-action lawsuit, an option that Kass said was possible.

"As a Realtor, I'm telling you we are tied to our school system," she said. "I moved here for the school system."