The county school board will consider locations for new school boundary lines tonight as it meets for the first time since public hearings were held on the issue.
Tonight's session is the final public meeting on new boundaries before the board votes March 23.
The work session at 7:30 p.m. at the Department of Education building on Route 108 in Ellicott City follows two public hearings at which parents, teachers and students voiced their opinions about proposals to shift school boundary lines. More than 300 attended the hearings, and more than 100 testified, mostly on high school redistricting.
The school board is expected to vote on new boundary lines next Tuesday.
"Redistricting is probably my least favorite to do, because there's no way we can make everyone happy," said Susan Cook, board vice-chairwoman. "We have to look at all the options and look at new proposals."
The board weighs 10 factors before it redistricts, including the distance students have to travel, anticipated school construction additions, socioeconomic and racial compositions and cost of alternative proposals.
"You look for balance," Ms. Cook said. "There's never going to be a decision that meets all criteria. Each year, redistricting is different. The needs are different."
At issue this year is drawing boundary lines for Rockburn Elementary School in Elkridge, scheduled to open next school year; for Mount View Middle School in Marriottsville, also scheduled to open next school year; and for Centennial and Wilde Lake high schools. Centennial is about 200 students over its capacity, while Wilde Lake is about 100 students under-enrolled.
"The high school redistricting is going to be really tough," Ms. Cook said. "We have an under-enrolled school. We have delayed high school redistricting because we do not like to redistrict high school students. We waited until a new high school got onto line. Now is the prime time."
School board Chairman Dana Hanna, like others, will bring up some what-if scenarios to discuss with other board member and school administrators. He did not want to disclose his ideas before the work session.
"At this point, I think there is a sense of whatever we do, we do for the long-range picture of stability in numbers [of students attending schools]," he said.