Patricia Jordan of Millers isn't thrilled about the prospect of her 5-year-old daughter spending more time on a school bus.
"From the time the school bell rings until she walks in our door, it's 45 minutes," said Jordan of her daughter's daily trips to and from Manchester Elementary School.
With the Carroll Board of Education's decision to redraw boundary lines for elementary schools in the northeastern part of the county,though, Jordan's daughter, Nicole, will spend even more time on the school bus. School officials estimated another five minutes.
"An hour on a school bus is ridiculous," said Jordan, who noted she was originally told the transfer to Hampstead Elementary School would add an extra 15 minutes of bus time.
Redrawing boundary lines, school officials said, is necessary to alleviate overcrowding at Manchester and Hampstead elementaries and to balance enrollment between those schools and the new Spring Garden Elementary School, which will open in September.
The school board, after reviewing five proposals to redraw boundary lines and after hearing lengthy public debate on the issue, unanimously chose a plan known as Option D.
Recommended by school administrators, Option D would provide substantial relief for Manchester Elementary School by transferring 176 students to Hampstead Elementary. Manchester students who live within town limits will not be transferred.
Jordan's was not a lone voice of dissent, however. More than a dozen parents showed up at last week's board meeting to voice opposition. Millers residents William Murphy and Paul Shipley, co-chairmen of the recently formed North Carroll Parents For Better Schools, presented board members with petitions asking that the redistricting decision be delayed.
"We are against busing our children toHampstead schools," Murphy said. "Busing will not solve problems of overcrowding and growth. We're appalled with (Option D)."
The sometimes emotional opposition was not unexpected, school officials said.
Vernon F. Smith, Carroll's director of school support services, said redistricting can be a "highly emotional issue" for many people, especially those who have deep roots in a community.
"It makes redistricting more difficult to accept," he said.
During public meetings in November and subsequent board meetings, Manchester parents have told board members that they moved into the Manchester area to be close to the school. They also have said they and their children take pride in the close-knit community.
Although Manchester parents said they would have preferred that the attendance area be left intact, school officials said Option D was chosen to provide as much relief as possible to the overcrowded elementary school.
Under that option, Manchester's enrollment would fall from 942 students to 785 students. The school has a capacity of 720 pupils, including 20 special education students. The overflow is housed in several portables on campus.
The redistricting proposal would bring Hampstead, with a currentenrollment of 934 students, well under its capacity of 570 pupils, school officials said. The new $5.4 million Spring Garden school will open under its 600-student capacity.
Although the redistricting issue in northeast Carroll has seemingly been resolved, the issue of redistricting is far from over. The board will begin considering redistricting proposals for the new Piney Ridge and Friendship Valley elementary schools this spring.
Said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling,"Redistricting is always a painful, painful process."