Parents Draw Battle Lines Around School Redistricting

December 02, 1990|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

HAMPSTEAD - None of the four redistricting proposals for elementary students in North Carroll was openly embraced by parents at a public meeting here last week.

While there was minimal support for some proposals, which range from dividing the Hampstead Elementary attendance area in half to leaving Manchester school boundaries intact, there was no general approval of any of the redistricting options.

But a majority of the 100 or so residents who attended the meeting at Hampstead Elementary School opposed a plan that would remove 182 students from Manchester Elementary to attend Hampstead and the new Spring Garden Elementary, slated to open next fall.

Although the redistricting options clearly upset many residents, school officials said redrawing the boundary lines is necessary to alleviate overcrowding at Manchester and Hampstead elementaries and to balance the enrollment between those schools and Spring Garden Elementary.

Latest enrollment figures show there are 934 students attending Hampstead, with a capacity of 550 students. The enrollment at Manchester, with a capacity of 700 students, has climbed to 942 students. Both schools use several portables to house the overflow.

The new $5.4 million elementary school, near Boxwood Drive in the Roberts Field development, will have a capacity of 600 students. Without redrawing attendance areas, Spring Garden would open slightly below capacity.

Most of the public opposition to the redistricting proposals has centered on the plan known as Option C, which besides relocating some Manchester students would use Hampstead's Main Street as the dividing line between Hampstead and Spring Garden elementaries. Enrollments at both schools would be matched as closely as possible to capacity.

School officials have described that plan as the most efficient in terms of bus transportation routes. The plan also would allow for growth at both schools.

"Our main concern ought to be for our children and our community today and not for developers," said Sean Gibbons of Hampstead.

Most parents opposed the plan because they wanted to maintain the sense of community in Manchester. Some also said they moved into the community because of the proximity to the elementary school.

"The whole point of where we live is the community," a Manchester mother said. "I wanted to live in Manchester and wanted my children to go to Manchester Elementary."

Although several residents charged school officials with favoring Option C, Vernon F. Smith, Carroll's director of school support services, said that was not the case. He said that targeting that option as the most efficient was merely stating a fact.

In developing the options, Smith said planners considered the geographic proximity of students to the schools, pupil transportation routes, school capacities, development activity and the county growth rate, about 3 percent annually.

Board of Education members, he added, have not made up their minds.

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