Disruptive school redistricting Transporting Westminster children to Taneytown isn't the answer.

March 27, 1996

TO RESOLVE the overcrowding at Westminster's West Middle School, the Carroll County Board of Education's proposed solution creates more problems than it solves. The plan should be shelved and reconsidered.

To alleviate overcrowding at West Middle -- where 1,289 students are crammed into a school designed for 995 -- the proposal calls for moving dozens of Westminster children miles from their homes to Northwest Middle School in Taneytown. By doing so, the county system might also undermine the case for a new Westminster middle school.

Redistricting school boundaries is never easy, but this proposal is more disruptive than most. Transporting several dozen children from the Greens, Whispering Meadows and Pleasant Valley subdivisions on a 24-mile round trip doesn't seem sensible, not when they currently attend a school two miles or so from their homes. The additional transportation costs will be considerable. These children could spend as much as two hours bouncing around the Carroll County countryside on a school bus.

Also, these students will be going to school in a strange environment. If they miss a bus or stay after school, they won't run into a neighbor who can give them a lift home. In all likelihood, these students will be less able to participate in extra-curricular activities. As a result, they won't have the same allegiance to their school or contact with teachers as they might otherwise have. Parents will be less likely to participate in school affairs, too. Instead of driving down the street to a meeting, parents will have to drive to Taneytown. Such a situation isn't good for the students, parents or the school.

The other fly in the ointment: By reducing overcrowding at West Middle, the state Interagency Committee for Public School Construction will look less favorably on financing a new middle school. While securing state money should not be the driving force behind school redistricting, the proposed plan will sabotage any effort to get state aid.

Westminster needs a third middle school. Until that happens, schools officials will have to make due with portables. As imperfect as is that temporary solution, it makes more sense that sending students to a far corner of the county.

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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