Elem. school re­dis­trict plans pre­sented

Billings­ley school open­ing to draw from sev­eral el­e­men­tary schools

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Charles County Pub­lic Schools is ask­ing the com­mu­nity to weigh in on two plans for deal­ing with school over­crowd­ing and a new el­e­men­tary school in White Plains.

Last fall, the school sys­tem formed a redis­trict­ing com­mit­tee com­prised of par­ents, school sys­tem staff, com­mu­nity mem­bers and other stake­hold­ers, to de­velop and rec­om­mend two redis­trict­ing plans.

The two pro­pos­als were pre­sented to the school board at its April 4 meet­ing.

The com­mit­tee met once a week over a three month pe­riod to de­velop the two al­ter­na­tives, said Michael Heim, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of sup­port­ing ser­vices.

“It’s never an easy de­ci­sion to … rec­om­mend mov­ing stu­dents from one school to an­other, and they were tasked with mak­ing some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions,” Heim said. “It was done in the

interests of bal­anc­ing en­roll­ment at schools, to get them as close to their state rated ca­pac­ity as pos­si­ble.”

The redis­trict­ing com­mit­tee was given three guide­lines: All neigh­bor­hoods were el­i­gi­ble for redis­trict­ing ex­cept those des­ig­nated as walk­ing zones; when pos­si­ble, neigh­bor­hoods were not to be di­vided be­tween dif­fer­ent schools; and the redis­trict­ing should ac­count for cur­rent and fu­ture res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

Brad Snow, di­rec­tor of transportation, said this was a com­pre­hen­sive el­e­men­tary school redis­trict­ing.

“What that means is that our cur­rent pri­or­ity was to cre­ate the at­ten­dance zones for Billings­ley and that the com­mit­tee was to also look at the other el­e­men­tary at­ten­dance zones and make any adjustments they saw fit,” Snow said.

Al­ter­na­tive A would have the new Billings­ley El­e­men­tary School draw pri­mar­ily from neigh­bor­hoods cur­rently as­signed to Berry El­e­men­tary east of Mid­dle­town Road and Dr. James Craik east of Mid­dle­town Road and south of Billings­ley Road but also draw­ing from neigh­bor­hoods cur­rently as­signed to Arthur Mid­dle­ton and William B. Wade el­e­men­tary schools.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Kathy Per­riello, prin­ci­pal of Henry E. Lackey High School, said the com­mit­tee went be­yond look­ing at maps when de­vel­op­ing Al­ter­na­tive A.

“We ac­tu­ally went out to drive in some of the com­mu­ni­ties that would be im­pacted by this,” Per­riello said.

C. Paul Barn­hart, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, William A. Diggs, Dr. Gus­tavus Brown, J.C. Parks, Mary H. Mat­ula, Wal­ter J. Mitchell, Mary B. Neal, Dr. Sa­muel A. Mudd, J.P. Ryon and Eva Turner el­e­men­tary schools would also be af­fected by the redis­trict­ing.

Gale-Bai­ley, Dr. Thomas Hig­don, In­dian Head, Mal­colm, T.C. Martin and Mt. Hope/ Nan­je­moy el­e­men­tary schools’ at­ten­dance zones would not be af­fected un­der Al­ter­na­tive A.

Un­der Al­ter­na­tive B, the new Billings­ley El­e­men­tary would draw mostly from Craik, par­tic­u­larly neigh­bor­hoods south of Twin­brook Drive and Billings­ley Road, while also draw­ing from some neigh­bor­hoods feed­ing Berry, Diggs and Wade.

Berry would in­stead give up neigh­bor­hoods to Barn­hart and Jenifer.

“We did pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant room for growth, be­cause we know that when you open up a new school, de­vel­op­ments spring up like mush­rooms,” said Kenneth Schroeck, prin­ci­pal of Ben­jamin Stod­dert Mid­dle School, of Al­ter­na­tive B.

Mid­dle­ton, Ryon, Brown, Mat­ula, Neal, Mitchell, Parks, Hig­don, In­dian Head, Mal­colm, Martin, Brown and Mudd would also be af­fected un­der Al­ter­na­tive B.

Un­der Al­ter­na­tive B, at­ten­dance zones for Gale-Bai­ley, Mt. Hope/Nan­je­moy and Turner would re­main un­changed.

Two neigh­bor­hoods are di­vided be­tween zones in Al­ter­na­tive A: In Mat­ula’s cur­rent zone, the por­tion of the neigh­bor­hood off St. Luke Drive will go to Mid­dle­ton while the por­tion off St. Li­nus Drive will go to Neal; and in Neal’s cur­rent zone, the por­tion of the neigh­bor­hood behind the Small­wood Vil­lage Shop­ping Cen­ter and be­tween St. Paul’s Drive and Ren­ner Road would be re­as­signed to Turner.

Al­ter­na­tive B does not split neigh­bor­hoods.

Bradley Snow, di­rec­tor of transportation ser­vices, said the new dis­trict­ing would go into ef­fect in 2018, when the new Billings­ley El­e­men­tary is sched­uled to open.

Steven An­dritz, di­rec­tor of plan­ning and con­struc­tion, said the plans are be­ing made a year ahead of time to give par­ents, stu­dents and the com­mu­nity time to ad­just to any changes.

“We wanted to put this in­for­ma­tion out a year be­fore the new school opens so ev­ery­one had am­ple time to be pre­pared, to see what the changes are, and any adjustments that need to be made,” An­dritz said.

Two pub­lic hear­ings will be held on the two pro­pos­als, one April 24 at West­lake High School and one April 25 at St. Charles High School; both hear­ings be­gin at 6:30 p.m.

Hill is sched­uled to make her rec­om­men­da­tion to the board on May 22, with a school board vote on the plan sched­uled for June 13.

Board chair­man Michael Lukas said the redis­trict­ing was needed.

“Lest any­one ques­tion why we need to do this, we have 21 el­e­men­tary schools, all but five are over their state rated ca­pac­ity,” Lukas said.

Copies of both al­ter­na­tives can be found on the school sys­tem web­site’s redis­trict­ing page: http://www.ccboe.com/ redis­trict­ing/Redis­trict­ingFINAL.pdf

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