Schools try to limit transfers

January 05, 1995|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County parents can expect few boundary changes next fall under redistricting ideas pitched by the school system last night.

The major change would involve the transfer of several hundred eastern county students when a new middle school opens next fall. Only a relatively small number of elementary school students would be affected next fall, and no high school boundary changes would take place until 1996.

The ideas were presented at a meeting at Centennial High School, where questionnaires on redistricting were distributed to parents.

Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin presented two options to relieve crowding at Ellicott Mills and Mayfield Woods middle schools with the opening of the Elkridge Landing Middle School next fall, .

Under one option, Elkridge Landing would draw students from the Bonnie Branch, Montgomery Road, Route 100, Route 1 and Montevideo Road areas. Ellicott Mills would be left with students east of Old Annapolis Road, north of Route 100, south of Route 29 and parts of Route 103 up to Bonnie Branch Road. The drawback under this option is that Ellicott Mills would have a student population of fewer than 450 students.

Under the second option, fewer students would leave Ellicott Mills and students in the Route 104 area attending Mayfield Woods would transfer to Elkridge Landing.

"We are going to have all of these transfers and people are going to be asking for stability," Dr. Kalin said. "But with all the transition, it's going to be difficult."

At the elementary school level, Dr. Kalin presented the idea of sending students who live in the developing Columbia Gateway Road area to Jeffer's Hill Elementary School, which is expected to have space for them, rather than risk overcrowding at Guilford Elementary School, which they would normally attend. Gateway has more than 600 townhouses and apartments planned, and it is expected to have 75 students.

Although high school boundary lines won't change until 1996 with the opening of two new schools and the reopening of Wilde Lake High School, Dr. Kalin gave parents snapshots of possible changes.

Among the possibilities:

* The new River Hill High School in Clarksville would be home to students in the Ten Oaks, Tridelphia River, Route 108, Pointer's Run and Pheasant Ridge areas. And Atholton High School students who live west of Route 108, north of Route 32 and north of Woodscape Road would also attend River Hill.

* Mount Hebron High School would find relief from crowding when students in the area south of Sucker Branch and U.S. 40, as well as on Main Street in Ellicott City, are transferred to Centennial High.

* Oakland Mills High School would get additional students from the Hopewell, MacGill's Common and Thunder Hill neighborhoods either in 1996 or by 2000.

But even with redistricting, school officials expect crowded conditions at the high schools until 2008. By 2000, for example, the high school population is expected to increase by 3,400 students, or 36 percent. By 2005, it is expected to increase by 6,000 students -- or more than 70 percent more than this school year.

"What we have to do is build schools for this period but not too many, so if the peak declines, we don't have to close them," Dr. Kalin said.

Johanna Martino, who has a child at Pointer's Run Elementary School, asked for a portable classroom at the school. She said that the school system's estimate that Pointer's Run will get only 66 more students next year is incorrect, considering there are 270 homes being built in the area.

"It's so crowded," she said. "Everyone bumps into each other. My feeling is [school officials are] ignoring the fact that River Hill is exploding. If you drive over the area, there's literally hundreds of homes coming up in the area."

The timetable for the redistricting process is as follows:

* Jan. 26: Staff recommendations for redistricting changes are presented to the school board.

* March 2: The board conducts a public work session on staff recommendations.

* March 7: The board holds a public hearing on the staff recommendations.

* March 12: The board holds second public work session based on questions and comments from parents and community members.

* March 23: The board approves or makes changes to staff recommendations.

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