ELDERSBURG — When Piney Ridge Elementary opens its doors in September, classroomswill have room for growth under a redistricting option approved lastweek by the Board of Education.
The board approved a plan Wednesday known as Option A, which will allow the school to open with about 490 students, well below its capacity of 600.
Other options would have opened the school near or above capacity, which administrators wanted to avoid. They noted that the site, on Freedom Avenue off Route 26, has limited space for portables.
Fifteen parents attended a final public hearing at Liberty High School last week on the three proposed redistricting plans for the new school.Little opposition was voiced to the plans during public hearings held in March.
The administration had recommended Option A, which creates a Piney Ridge attendance area using the Route 32 corridor, the Freedom Avenue connector, the township limits of Sykesville, and the Gaither Road area.
Option A, like the other two redistricting plans, means students from Carrolltowne, Freedom and Eldersburg elementaries will be transferred to Piney Ridge, which is nearing completion.
Transferred to the new school will be about 300 students from Carrolltowne, more than 100 from Eldersburg and more than 20 from Freedom,officials said.
Redrawing boundary lines is necessary to alleviate overcrowding at the schools and to balance enrollment among the existing elementaries and Piney Ridge, administrators said.
Under Option A, for example, enrollment at Eldersburg Elementary, which has a capacity of 550 students, will fall below 600 students. Its enrollment is currently 786 students.
At last week's hearing, parents askedquestions about the availability of before- and after-school day-care programs, whether computers and playground equipment would be offered at the school when it opens, and whether extracurricular activities were being planned.
Vernon F. Smith, Carroll's director of school support services, said several day-care providers have approached the district about offering programs at the school. A decision has notbeen made.
He said computer and playground equipment has been ordered and will be installed at the school as it arrives. Any extracurricular activities, he said, will be planned by the principal, teaching staff and parents.
"Hopefully, there will be enrichment activities for students to participate in," Smith said.
The other two redistricting plans would have expanded the attendance area under Option A. Option B would have included Obrecht Road east of Route 97 and White Rock Road south of Martz Road. Option C would have included all ofWhite Rock and Streaker roads east of Patrick Drive.
Freedom and Carrolltowne elementary boundaries were affected in the same way under all three options. But under Options B and C, even more students would have been pulled from Eldersburg Elementary.
Smith noted that although Piney Ridge will alleviate some overcrowding in the southeastern area of the county, another elementary school will be needed in the region within the next decade.
School officials also are continuing their efforts to build an additional middle school in the area.