Stu­dents to tem­po­rar­ily shift to dif­fer­ent mid­dle school

Kids mov­ing into St. Charles to at­tend Stod­dert, not Somers

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­ Twit­ter@SykesIndyNews

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.”

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