Redistricting may bring change for some Harford Co. students Committee to decide new school boundaries

January 28, 1996|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,SUN STAFF

Harford County elementary students from Emmorton to Edgewood could find themselves moving to different schools in September as a redistricting committee decides on new school boundaries.

The 27-member committee, which has until March to present recommendations to the school board, will hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the board room at 45 E. Gordon St. in Bel Air.

Some schools, such as William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary, a two-building school in Abingdon, may lose students to one school -- only to gain students from another, said Donald R. Morrison, system spokesman.

The numbers won't be known until spring, when the Board of Education votes on the committee's recommendations.

"Our biggest concern is that we not lose our computer or art rooms," said Cathi Peters, PTA president at William Paca/Old Post Road. She said the school system considers the half-dozen rooms the school uses for such specialty lessons as potential classroom space.

The school, with 932 students from part-time kindergartners to fifth-graders, has a capacity of 1,072, according to the school system. Despite being under capacity, some music classes are held in hallways or on the auditorium stage, Mrs. Peters said.

The possible redistricting of more than 3,000 students is being considered because nearby Abingdon Elementary, which opened in 1992 with a capacity of 580, now is nearly 200 students over that, Mr. Morrison said.

William Paca/Old Post Road was redistricted in 1994, when about 150 children were sent to Church Creek Elementary in Belcamp.

"We hope another redistricting will not be necessary before the year 2000," the spokesman said.

The elementaries are in the fastest growing part of the county, from the Camelot subdivision near Bel Air to the area bordering the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, he said. Land for a new Abingdon-area elementary is available in the Box Hill South development, but there is no date for development.

"Unfortunately, the school system will not approve money for a new school until all of the vacant seats in the area are filled," Mr. Morrison said.

Abingdon Elementary could have more than 1,000 students by 2000 if redistricting doesn't take place, Mr. Morrison said.

The other elementaries, Edgewood, Emmorton and William S. James in Abingdon, are under capacity.

Mark Wolkow, who has two children at Abingdon Elementary, said he would prefer that his children stay there. "But, if our children are moved, it will not be the end of the world," said Mr. Wolkow, a member of the education subcommittee for the Abingdon and Emmorton communities planning council.

He said people in his neighborhood are more concerned that children not be moved more than once, rather than about which school they attend.

"We also want to keep our community together, that children who live near one another go to the same schools," he said.

Students attending Abingdon, Edgewood and William Paca/Old Post Road elementaries eventually will go to Edgewood Middle and Edgewood High -- no matter where they may be redistricted, Mr. Morrison said.

Similarly, students at William S. James and Emmorton elementaries will go to the Bel Air middle and high schools.

School system projections say Edgewood Elementary, with 443 students and a capacity of 504, probably will have 377 students by the end of the decade because of downsizing at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Emmorton Elementary, with 469 students in a school built for 588, is expected to have 596 students by 2000. William S. James Elementary, with 510 students in a school built for 566, is projected to have 544 students by then.

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