Southern Maryland News

Elem. school redistrict plans presented

Billingsle­y school opening to draw from several elementary schools


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: redistrict­ing/Redistrict­ingFINAL.pdf

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States