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Atholton Redistricting Comparison

The current Atholton HS district only includes a few low-income neighborhoods directly north of the school building, but the district extends quite far south of Hammond HS in grey (Figure 1). 

The county has seen rapid growth in the east, but built new schools in the west. Now there is excess capacity in the west, and most school districts have had to reach eastward to use the excess capacity. 

Atholton HS is the one exception that actually extends toward the wealthier western part of the county. 

Figure 1 - Current Atholton HS District

Figure 2 - Feasibility Study Proposed Atholton HS District

In contrast, Hammond High School district lies to the east of Atholton HS district and encompasses the low-income areas. 

Various historical reasons have been suggested for what appears to be obvious gerrymandering. 

Nonetheless, Atholton High School district is certainly drawn around high-income areas and excludes nearby lower-income areas to the north, south and east. 

If one has excess capacity in the west, it is hard to imagine a way to redistrict that wouldn’t involve moving Atholton High School district to the east like all other school districts already.

Indeed, the Feasibility Study proposed moving Atholton HS district eastward taking some moderate income students from Oakland Mills HS and some lower income students from OM and Hammond (Figure 2). 

This is one of the few changes that would have lowered the length of bus routes for students, and the only change in the FS that would have increased low-income students in a district that had less than average concentration of FARM students to start with. 

In the next iterations, the ACC restored the previous Atholton HS district (Figures 3 and 4). 

The example, shows that Atholton HS is clearly segregated by income, with only 10.7% FARM although interspersed with Hammond with 37.3% FARM. 

Figure 3 - AAC1 Atholton HS District

Figure 4 - AAC2 Atholton HS District

The experience of the early part of the redistricting discussion also demonstrates how the segregation by income is maintained and exacerbated. 

Figure 5 - Alternative Atholton HS District

There are a thousand little decisions made, favored, opposed, and rescinded, and each individual decision and each comment by itself may seem innocent enough, but the sum of all these decisions is structural segregation of school districts.

We tested a scenario that moved the Atholton HS District to the east (Figure 5).

This caused Atholton’s percentage FARM to increase from 10.7% to 26.5%. 

This district would also decrease the percentage FARM in Hammond from 37% FARM to 32%, and Wilde Lake from 42% to 33%. 

The bus rides would be decreased compared to the original and proposed Atholton HS Districts that needed to extend quite far south to find enough high-income neighborhoods.