WESTMINSTER — Some 565 students will be transferred to the new Friendship Valley Elementary this fall under a redistricting plan approved by the Carroll school board Monday.
The plan, known as Option D, will transfer students from Westminster, Robert Moton and William Winchester elementaries to the new school on Gist Road off Kate Wagner Road.
"I like (Option) D because it affects the least number of children" and eliminates moving students from one existing school to another, said board Vice President Carolyn L. Scott.
Other board members expressed sentiments similar to Scott's after a final public hearing at West Middle School. About a dozen parents attended.
Robert Erwin of West Parisian Way told board members he favored the staff's recommendation because it allowed his children to remain at Westminster Elementary.
Board member John D. Myers Jr. said he was "pleased (the staff) responded to the needs of the community" in developing a fourth redistricting option for the school.
Initially, the school staff had proposed three options that would have affected three schools -- Westminster, Robert Moton and William Winchester -- in varying degrees.
In addition, one option called for the transfer of students in the Presidential Park development from Freedom Elementary in Sykesville to the new Westminster school.
Parents overwhelmingly objected to that proposal during a hearing in January. They told educators their children are involved in out-of-school activities, such as Scouts and church organizations, in South Carroll and are not part of theWestminster area.
The school staff developed Option D after listening to those parents and others during public hearings at each of the schools.
The primary difference between Option D and the other proposals lies with the treatment of students in the Furnace Hills development off Route 31. Under Option D, those students will remain at Westminster Elementary. One of the initial options called for those students to attend the new school, even though Westminster Elementary is nearby.
Kathleen Sanner, assistant in school facilities, said the staff tried to balance expected enrollment growth in each of the four school attendance areas.
She said that even though Robert Moton will open in the fall around its 550-student capacity, it's just a matter of time before growth will push enrollment back up. The redistricting will allow educators to remove several portables from the school.
Although the new school and the redistricting will provide 130 open seats "at this moment in time," school officials expect all those seats to be filled in September. Educators are anticipating some 800 new students in the county this fall.