Students to temporarily shift to different middle school
Kids moving into St. Charles to attend Stoddert, not Somers
St. Charles has been a hotbed of county growth and development. Charles County Public Schools are preparing for more students — and to accommodate the steadily-increasing population, middle school students moving into the St. Charles neighborhoods of Gleneagles South, Gleneagles North, Villages of Wooded Glen and Villages of Piney Reach after July 15 will attend Benjamin Stoddert Middle School rather than Milton Somers.
Charles County Public Schools public information officer Katie O’Malley-Simpson said Superintendent Kimberly Hill is making the temporary reassignment for students because Somers is over state-rated capacity and in need of renovations over the next three years.
Until that time, Hill said, “Stoddert has the capacity to absorb new growth to relieve additional student enrollment pressures at Somers.”
The change will not reassign children advancing to middle school to Stoddert if they are already zoned for Somers. Rather, O’Malley-Simpson said, students who move into the designated area after July 15 when new neighborhood homes are occupied will attend Stoddert rather than Somers, where they would have originally been zoned.
The change is expected to add 30 extra students per year to Stoddert’s capacity, O’Malley-Simpson said. And although Somers is being renovated and expanded, students will still be able to attend school there through the process, she said.
“Benjamin Stoddert’s construction is expected to be completed by August 2020 so we won’t start the redistricting process next year, but we’ll probably start it after,” O’Malley-Simpson said. “It won’t take effect until 2020.”
Having three years’ additional growth going into Milton Somers would have been an issue, O’Malley-Simpson said, because the school is currently at capacity. “It’s basically a temporary fix,” she said.
The school system prefers not to redistrict more than once every three years, O’Malley-Simpson said, because moving students around is difficult on the children. What they are doing now, she said, does not move any students; it just temporarily reassigns new students to a different school.
Benjamin Stoddert Principal Kenneth Schroeck said with Stoddert being under state-rated capacity, they are more than willing to bring in students originally assigned to Somers. The buildup of the neighborhoods will be slow, he said, so while the solution is temporary the work their faculty will be doing is important.
The addition of 30 extra students annually will not be too much, Schroeck said, and each student will be accepted and welcomed — just as any other new student would.
“Our mission is to make sure to embrace every new student, new family, get them acclimated to our school and involved immediately and connected with them,” Schroeck said. “It’s no different from any new student that comes in.”
O’Malley-Simpson said the neighborhood buildout would be linear and would not have students who are neighbors attending different schools. There will be different sections of students, she said, in these areas but there would not be different buses coming into the same neighborhood to transport students to two different schools.
“They’re building it in order. They kind of do them all at the same time,” O’Malley-Simpson said. “Otherwise, it’s just a scheduling thing. And we schedule buses all the time.”