School boundary verdict to transfer 400 children

April 19, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

The boundary lines of a new Harford County school in Abingdon were decided last night after months of bickering and pleas from hundreds of parents, involving more than 20 neighborhoods.

The school board decided to accept a redistricting proposal for Emmorton Elementary that would transfer about 400 Bel Air area students from one of the county's most crowded schools: Ring Factory Elementary, which is 43 percent over capacity.

The board, after hearing testimony at two public forums in March, followed most of the recommendations of a school-sanctioned committee that included parents and administrators. The 28-member panel had spent several weeks in the fall redrawing school boundaries to carve out a school district for Emmorton Elementary, which is under construction on South Wheel Road.

In a 5-1 vote, the board also accepted two amendments to the redistricting proposal. Under the changes, the western portion of Homestead/Wakefield Elementary attendance area will become part of the Youth's Benefit Elementary School attendance area, and the students from the northern half of the Colonial Acres neighborhood in Bel Air will attend Ring Factory Elementary School.

"It's been one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make in my nine years on the board," said board member Keith A. Williams. "Some will leave happy, some will not."

Disappointed opponents of the redistricting plan said it was unfair because it will force their elementary-age children to switch schools for the third time.

For instance, children who live in the Broadview neighborhood in Abingdon have already been transferred once -- from William S. James Elementary Elementary to Ring Factory.

A group of Broadview neighbors had even presented the board with its own redistricting report last month.

The proposal called for leaving established neighborhoods, such as Broadview, at Ring Factory, and sending students from new or growing communities to the new school.

Other parents were worried about bus travel.

They said the proposal would cause their children to travel too far over some of the county's most congested roads -- Routes 924 and 24, as well as Wheel Road -- to get to the new school.

Emmorton Elementary, a 600-student building, is scheduled to open Sept. 7.

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