Nearly 800 students may face school move Boundary-line plan affects elementaries

December 05, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Almost 800 students in five elementary schools will be affected by redistricting next fall if Howard County school board members approve a preliminary boundary-line proposal presented to parents this week.

The proposal calls for a shift of some 788 students from five elementary schools into two new ones. This is little more than half the 1,400 students moved this school year and about a third of the nearly 2,000 moved the year before. No middle or high school students will be moved next fall, according to the plan.

Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin presented the proposal to about 300 parents who attended meetings at county high schools last night and Wednesday night.

Kalin emphasized that the plans are preliminary and likely to change before he makes his final presentation to school board members next month. He urged parents to make suggestions on a survey he passed out if they had concerns.

"Frankly, I don't care which ideas we use, but I just want to do this easily and efficiently," he said at Wednesday's meeting. "Tell me what you think."

The presentations marked the first time Kalin presented his ideas on boundary line movements to the public. At the meetings, dozens in the audience asked questions, but few made suggestions.

Kalin said he expected most feedback to come from the survey, noting that he has received as many as 2,000 completed surveys from parents in past years.

The school board adjusts boundary lines almost every year to compensate for enrollment growth and the opening of new schools.

According to Kalin's proposal, all of next year's moves will be to accommodate two new elementary schools -- Gorman Crossing in North Laurel and Triadelphia Ridge in Glenelg.

The proposal includes:

Moving about 140 Atholton Elementary students who live south of Guilford Road in Columbia's Kings Contrivance Village to Gorman Elementary.

Moving about 148 Forest Ridge Elementary students who live west of Interstate 95 in North Laurel to Gorman.

Moving some 217 Bushy Park Elementary students who live south of Burntwoods Road and east of Route 97 in Glenwood to Triadelphia Ridge.

Moving some 123 West Friendship Elementary students who live south of Triadelphia Road to Triadelphia Ridge Elementary.

Moving about 80 Lisbon Elementary students who live south Warfield Road, south of Florence Road and east of Woodbine Road to Bushy Park Elementary.

About 145 of the students who would move are fourth-graders, which means they would change schools for two consecutive years to attend a new elementary school and then to begin middle school.

"Students don't really seem to mind moving in elementary school," said Ellen Giles, whose four children have all moved because of redistricting over the years. "The kids get real excited about choosing a mascot and that type of thing."

That no middle or high school students would move next year -- an announcement that elicited applause from some parents at the meetings -- is "just a deferral," Kalin said.

"There will be changes coming up," he said. "But it's my philosophy to push it back as long as we can until we absolutely need to move students. The rule of thumb is not to move high school students unless we open a new school."

When the 1996 school year began, the boundary lines for every HTC high school except one changed to accommodate the opening of two high schools, River Hill and Long Reach. More than 1,400 high school students were affected.

With the 40,000-student system expected to grow by about 7,900 students by 2009, school officials plan to build as many as four new middle schools and one high school and to make additions or renovations to eight others over the next decade.

Kalin will formally recommend boundary-line changes to the school board Jan. 22. Two board work sessions and as many as two public hearings will be held before the board votes March 26.

Pub Date: 12/05/97

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