A Howard County school official has outlined a possible redistricting plan for next fall that is similar to one parents fought last school year.
Maurice F. Kalin, associate superintendent of planning and support services, told parents last night that some of his "preliminary thoughts" on school boundary changes are the same as those he originally recommended for the current academic year.
Those possible changes include redistricting the 175 pupils in the Nottingham Village area from Rockburn Elementary School to Waterloo Elementary; redistricting the 65 pupils in the Dark Hawk and Davis Road area from Waterloo Elementary to Phelps Luck Elementary, and redistricting the 145 pupils who live in the Dobbin Road area from Waterloo Elementary to Jeffers Hill Elementary.
Other plans mentioned by Kalin include building an addition to Ilchester Elementary next year; sending kindergartners from Ilchester Elementary to Ellicott Mills at Bonnie Branch Elementary; moving the 40 pupils in the Fairmead area -- which includes Orchard Hill -- from Jeffers Hill Elementary to Stevens Forest Elementary, and moving the 100 students who live in the Thunder Hill area from Howard High School to Oakland Mills High School.
Barry Budish, president of the Waterloo Elementary parent-teacher association, said before the meeting that he and other parents protested many of these proposals for redistricting northeastern elementary schools last year.
"After hundreds of people got involved last year there's no difference," he said. "If we had any effect at all, we delayed this a year."
Budish said the parent-teacher associations at Waterloo and four other elementary schools are supporting a position statement that calls for promptly building additions to crowded northeastern schools. It also asks that the new elementary school planned for that part of the county in 2003 be opened sooner.
"There's too much redistricting," said Budish, whose daughter is a third-grader at Waterloo. "Waterloo is not overcrowded, but they're going to take away a third of our school and add [students from another school]. Basically, this will be three redistrictings in 10 years."
Kalin said that while school officials agreed in the spring to hold off on redistricting, the idea was never discarded, only postponed.
"Do you have a Plan B if this doesn't work?" asked Melody Higgins, the mother of a seventh-grader and a candidate for school board next year.
"No," said Kalin.
Last night's meeting at Centennial High School was the first of two to introduce residents to the process of changing school boundaries. About 40 people attended the forum, including all five school board members. The second meeting is scheduled at 7: 30 tonight at Hammond High School.
Kalin will present a redistricting recommendation to the board Jan. 27. In March, the board will approve school boundary lines for the next school year.
The Howard County school system is seeing student growth of about 4 percent a year. Since 1988, officials have had to open between one and four new schools each year. As a result, redistricting students from one school to another has become an annual event.
Projections are that Howard County public school enrollment will peak in 2004 and then decline, Kalin said.