Board OKs redistricting 4 areas into Wilde Lake

March 25, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

The Howard County school board voted unanimously last night to shift four neighborhoods into the Wilde Lake High School district to bolster enrollment at Columbia's first high school.

The board voted to redistrict nearly 300 Dorsey Hall neighborhood students to Wilde Lake and made final their decision last year to shift the Longfellow, Beaverbrook and Hobbit's Glen areas to the Wilde Lake district in the fall.

Students in the four neighborhoods currently attend Centennial High School, which is 280 students over capacity. The board's action marks the end of a two-year redistricting process that has divided communities.

Board members had strong words for Dorsey Hall parents, who have lobbied to keep their children at Centennial, saying they wanted to maintain their sense of community. The parents had presented an alternative plan that would have kept their children at Centennial. They said the plan would have saved the county millions of dollars and reduced redistricting to a minimum.

Dorsey Hall's alternative plan "deals with one community's needs and is designed around 300 students," board member Deborah Kendig said. "It ignores the need of the larger community, especially those communities located in the western part of the county."

Board member Sandra French suggested to Dorsey Hall parents that they widen their definition of community.

"This whole county is our community," she said. "I would ask you all to embrace that concept. . . . Forget about the two miles around your house, folks."

In related matters:

* The board voted 3-2 to redistrict about 160 Hammond Middle School students in the Gorman Road area to Patuxent Valley Middle School next fall. Hammond would have been 38 percent, or 220 students, over capacity in the fall without redistricting.

Instead, Hammond will be 10 percent over capacity and Patuxent Valley will be 29 percent over capacity with the additional students, up from 5 percent without redistricting.

Board members were divided over the possibility that the 160 students might be redistricted again if school officials can't decide on a site for a new area middle school scheduled to open in 1997. School officials are doing topographic and traffic studies at the proposed site and hope to make a final decision by summer.

Mr. Hanna said he voted to redistrict the students because "I'm hearing loud and clear we're well on our way" to getting the site.

* The board unanimously voted to transform three empty classrooms at Burleigh Manor Middle School to teacher planning and support areas for Centennial High School. Board members and school officials did not rule out the possibility that Centennial teachers might use the space as classrooms if needed.

* The board also voted unanimously to alleviate crowding at St. John's Elementary School by using portable classrooms instead of redistricting more than 100 students in the Town & Country Boulevard and Wilton Acres areas to Waverly Elementary School. Board members were concerned that many of those students might be redistricted again when a new elementary school opens, which is scheduled for 1997.

"My point of impasse is moving students twice in four years," Ms. Kendig said.

Ms. French said she wanted students to have a sense of stability and belonging. "I can't have children in a school feeling as if they're in a temporary placement," she said.

* The board also proposed to move about 300 Waverly Elementary students and about 60 West Friendship Elementary students to Manor Woods Elementary, which is expected to open in the fall.

* The board approved redistricting the undeveloped area south of Route 100 to Phelps Luck Elementary School in 1995 from Worthington Elementary School. It also voted to redistrict undeveloped areas from Guilford Elementary School to the eastern part of Columbia in 1995.

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