School changes vote set tonight Board first will hear parents' final pleas on redistricting plan

Elementary to open in Aug.

March 17, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Parents have one last chance tonight to voice their opinions on the imminent redistricting of elementary schools in the South Carroll area.

After the public hearing, the Board of Education is expected to make a decision tonight on new school boundaries in preparation for the August opening of Linton Springs Elementary School in Eldersburg.

The redistricting plan that school officials recommended to the board last month has drawn criticism from parents whose children would be moved from the overcrowded Carrolltowne Elementary to other local schools.

School planners said their intent in the boundary adjustments is to balance enrollments among the five elementary schools in the southeast region. But some parents contend the changes would divide neighborhoods and increase school bus travel time.

Under the recommended redistricting, the 776-student population at Linton Springs would include 585 students transferred from Eldersburg Elementary. Nearly 500 pupils from other schools would be moved to elementaries in the South Carroll area.

Parents from the Flanders/Amberly neighborhood have been particularly critical of a change that would move 57 children in their community from Carrolltowne Elementary to Eldersburg Elementary.

"When you look at the map, you can see how disconnected we are from the Eldersburg [school] population," said Cheryl O'Bannon, who has a child at Carrolltowne.

O'Bannon and other parents have told school officials that under the new boundary, their children would live in a different community from their classmates. They have also complained that the bus trip to and from Eldersburg Elementary is eight miles, compared to a four-mile round trip to Carrolltowne.

At earlier public hearings, Flanders/Amberly parents suggested sending children from the Hunter's Crossing neighborhood to Eldersburg instead of moving their children. They argue that Hunter's Crossing is nearer Eldersburg, and in contrast to the established Flanders/Amberly community, it is an incomplete subdivision.

"It just makes a lot more sense to move a growing community to Eldersburg, where they've got a little room to grow," O'Bannon said.

School officials have said that the Flanders/Amberly move is an attempt to reduce enrollment at Carrolltowne, which has a population of 885 students and a capacity of 575.

And even if the district lines are redrawn as recommended, Carrolltowne will remain two classes above capacity next year, with a projected enrollment of 561.

Parents from the Carroll Highlands development plan to attend tonight's meeting to oppose a proposed boundary adjustment that would move 41 neighborhood children from Carrolltowne Elementary to Freedom Elementary.

Sue Emerick, a Carroll Highlands resident, said the recommended redistricting plan would split her community and create a pocket of children who attend Freedom Elementary.

"We moved here six years ago anticipating that our kids would go to Carrolltowne," said Emerick. "My back yard backs up to a house where the children will be going to a different school."

Emerick said she's also concerned about the increased travel time to Freedom, and that the bus route probably would cross Liberty Road at a dangerous intersection.

O'Bannon and Emerick said they have no objections to the quality of education their children would receive at Eldersburg .. Elementary or Freedom Elementary.

"We have no argument with the schools," O'Bannon said. "It's really an issue of the neighborhoods they've selected don't make sense."

The school board meeting to consider final comments from citizens will be at 7 p.m. at Liberty High School, 5855 Bartholow Road, Eldersburg. The board is then expected to vote on new boundary lines.

Pub Date: 3/17/98

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