A group of parents whose children attend Manchester Elementary want the county Board of Education to postpone until next month a decision on a redistricting plan for North Carroll elementary schools.
"This would allow us to have some of our questions addressed," said Paul Shipley, a Millers resident and co-chairman of the recently formed North Carroll Parents For Better Schools.
Shipley said the group, which has about 20 members, has questionsabout a fifth redistricting proposal, known as Option E, that would remove 120 students from the Manchester attendance area, none of whomlive within town limits, to Hampstead Elementary.
"We're really not sure what the boundary lines are and who will be moved," said William Murphy, a Millers resident and also a group co-chairman. "Are there going to be other options as well? We should be given an opportunity to understand the ramifications."
The school board is expected to approve a redistricting plan Wednesday.
Board members are mulling five proposals, which range from leaving the Manchester school boundaries intact to transferring 96 students from that school to Hampstead Elementary and dividing Hampstead's attendance area.
School officials have said that redrawing boundary lines is necessary to alleviate overcrowding at Manchester and Hampstead elementaries and to balance enrollment at Spring Garden Elementary School, slated to open next September.
The district conducted public meetings on four proposals in late November. Afterward, school officials developed a fifth plan to address parents' concerns about transferring students who live within Manchester town limits from Manchester Elementary to Hampstead Elementary.
"We have deep concerns about all the proposals," said Shipley's wife, Linda, whose 6-year-old daughter attends Manchester Elementary School. The family lives on Millers Station Road and isaffected by all the proposals, she said.
"My daughter will likelybe transferred no matter what," she said. "We think everybody shouldbe concerned about who's going to be next."
The group plans to present the board with petitions, signed by more than 100 residents, that ask not only for the decision to be postponed but also for the board to explore other ways of handling the overcrowding.
The district, for example, could consider moving up the time frame for the construction of a new elementary school in the Manchester area, Paul Shipley said. He said the school should be built in a more central location than Spring Garden Elementary, which is near Hampstead.
In addition, he said the group wants the school system to take better advantage of the state's adequate-facilities law, which allows the county tohalt development in areas where there are not adequate sewer or water facilities or schools.
The group will present the County Commissioners with copies of the petitions.
"I don't believe this type ofdecision should be a Board of Education decision," Murphy said. "Money going forth for these decisions is coming from county funds, and certainly the commissioners should have some type of say in the decision.
Although the group has formed to address the redistricting issue, Murphy said some long-term goals may be on the agenda, too. He said the group has concerns about the county curriculum and the lack ofparental input in board decisions.