Filling New School A 'Painful Process'

January 12, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — The calls haven't begun yet.

But Curtis Schnorr, principal at Robert Moton Elementary School, expects the phones to start ringing now that parents have received notice of the upcoming redistricting hearings for the county's new elementary school.

Schnorr said notices, sent home with pupils Thursday, may "heighten some people's anxieties" about which school their children will attend this fall.

Pupils at Robert Moton Elementary are among those who will be reassigned to Friendship Valley Elementary, which will open in September on Gist Road off Kate Wagner Road in Westminster.

"People have inquired about it, but I can't say they're concerned yet," Schnorr said. "It's not really registering. But it will."

Pupils at the city's other two elementary schools -- Westminster and William Winchester -- also will be reassigned to the new school.

Children at Freedom Elementary in Sykesville would be affected under one ofthe three redistricting plans before the school board.

Public hearings on the three proposals will be conducted at each of those schools later this month.

The staff will recommend one of the plans to the board next month, and a final public hearing will be held before a plan is approved in March.

Educators said the 600-pupil-capacityschool will provide some relief for Westminster's overcrowded elementaries.

In redrawing boundary lines, school officials have attempted to balance enrollment among the schools.

Vernon F. Smith Jr., director of school support facilities, said he asked the staff to "wipe the slates clean" -- ignore existing boundary lines -- in this latest redistricting effort.

Under the redistricting proposals, each of the Westminster schools will house pupils from both the city properand rural areas, Smith said. The staff sought to strike a balance between the urban and rural populations at each school.

The redistricting will affect about 2,285 children currently enrolled in the three Westminster schools.

School officials estimate that when Friendship Valley opens in the fall, there will be fewer than 130 vacant seats among the four schools.

"We will be at about the break-even point," said Kathleen Sanner, an assistant in the school support facilities office.

Under options known as A and B, there will be a complete reshuffling of pupil populations. Children from Westminster, William Winchester and Robert Moton would be transferred to Friendship Valley.

Westminster Elementary pupils living in the Sullivan Road andSullivan Heights area would be moved to William Winchester under Option A.

Pupils also would be shifted from Robert Moton to William Winchester under both options.

"Hopefully, what we're gaining by doing that is a more logical transportation pattern," Sanner said.

"Schools will be more identifiable by attendance areas."

Option B would add pupils from Presidential Park to the former option. This plan would provide relief to Freedom Elementary School and leave some room for growth at Friendship Valley, which would open with 528 pupils.

Option C would remove pupils from each of the three Westminster schools to Friendship Valley. No one would move to other schools. Friendship Valley would open with about 572 pupils.

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said redistricting can be a very "painful process" for parents.

o 'wipe the slates clean'

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