Third redistricting plan OK'd

Proposals to go before public next week

panel members dissatisfied

October 16, 2001|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

A citizens advisory committee added a third plan last night for redrawing high school attendance boundaries in the next school year.

The 28-member Boundary Lines Advisory Committee - the first of its kind in Howard County - had approved two plans, designated "black" and "orange."

Holding its final meeting before presenting all proposals to the public, the committee approved the new "red" plan, which is similar to the orange plan.

The red plan differs from the orange in that it would send a large group of children near Gorman Road from Hammond High School to Atholton High; and some children east of Browns Bridge Road - and others north of Johns Hopkins Road - to the new Reservoir High.

A large group of children in the Clary's Forest area who would have been reassigned from Wilde Lake High under the orange plan would stay there under the red version.

The plans were drafted by David C. Drown, the school district's coordinator of geographic systems, who used committee suggestions and guidelines to draw the boundaries.

The black plan would send several hundred students from River Hill to Reservoir High, but would leave Long Reach High untouched until 2003 and Howard High untouched indefinitely.

The plans will be reviewed by the public in two forums next week - at Hammond High and Centennial High. It is likely, committee members said, that the plans would be modified before being forwarded to the school board.

The board must make a final decision on redistricting by early next year to begin shifting 1,332 students to the new Reservoir High School - the county's 11th.

At the end of last night's meeting, many committee members expressed displeasure.

Jerry Bialecki, committee co-chairman, said none of the plans did what board members and Superintendent John R. O'Rourke asked the committee to do. For example, none of the proposals takes into account a planned 12th high school that is to open in 2004 near Mount View Middle School in Marriottsville, he said.

Drown said his biggest problem with the plans is that none alleviates severe crowding in the county's northeast.

Under the black and orange plans, Howard High is left between 188 percent and 124 percent of capacity. Long Reach would be 147 percent of capacity in either plan, he said.

Meanwhile, nearby Oakland Mills High would be between 86 percent and 93.4 percent of capacity.

"I have lost sleep at night [thinking] ... I don't care what you guys come up with," Drown told the committee. "I'll make my own plan because the northeast is still a mess."

Drown said he will ask the school board if he can try to formulate a redistricting plan that would relocate the planned 12th high school to the northeast instead of near Mount View Middle, increase the size of Howard High to 1,600 seats, and relocate the county's technology magnet plan - which brings in many out-of-district students - from Long Reach High to a less-crowded school.

"They may say, `Mr. Drown, you're crazy. Go back and get us another plan, because we're not doing any of this stuff,'" Drown said. "But we have to try something."

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