School board passes redistricting measure

Plan is to transfer 360 elementary pupils

March 14, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Despite complaints from parents, the Carroll County school board unanimously approved a plan last night to move about 360 pupils next year among elementary schools in fast-growing South Carroll and Mount Airy.

Among the dozens of people who nearly filled the board room, six parents spoke to oppose the redistricting plan, which school officials said will ease crowding at elementary schools in South Carroll.

"I know it's a tough decision, and it's something none of you relish," said Donya Oneto, 43, a 12-year resident of Lasalle Lane whose third-grader will move from Linton Springs Elementary to Winfield Elementary under the redistricting.

But she questioned the transportation plan, saying it is detrimental to her neighborhood, and wondered why "school buses are going to pass though our neighborhood to get to Linton Springs."

"When Linton Springs opened, one of the things they stressed was the sense of community," Oneto said. Nevertheless, she pledged, "If we are redistricted, we will support Winfield. It is an excellent school."

As part of the redistricting plan, the board approved transferring 142 pupils from Linton Springs to Winfield and shifting 99 Eldersburg Elementary pupils to Freedom Elementary.

To alleviate crowding in Mount Airy, the plan calls for temporarily relocating 120 Mount Airy Elementary pupils - next year's fifth-grade class - to portable classrooms on the middle school campus. The elementary school, built to accommodate 666 pupils, houses 738. By 2004, the building is projected to have 1,018 pupils - 352 above capacity.

The school system is expected to build a second elementary school in Mount Airy by 2004, but the project has not received state approval or funding.

"We do not like redistricting any more than anyone else does," Susan W. Krebs, the school board president, told the crowd. "Fortunately, all the facilities we're talking about here are good facilities."

Krebs predicted these moves would be frequent as long as Carroll keeps growing.

"I'm going to support this plan," said Susan Holt, the board vice president, who has had two children involved in redistricting. "What I'm asking you is to support your child in making this transition."

She asked, "Do we really want an elementary school with 1,000 students in it?"

The board pleased some parents when, by a 3-2 vote, it agreed to the grandfathering of fourth-graders - allowing them to complete their last year at their current school if they apply by April 15 and provide their transportation.

"I'm happy with the grandfathering," Cheryl Adams, 40, one of the speakers, said after the meeting. Her son is a fourth-grader at Linton Springs.

Last month, nearly 200 parents attended a hearing to discuss the redistricting at Century High School in Eldersburg. Many spoke about the disruption in transferring children from a school where they have friends and routines to a place where they don't know teachers, guidance counselors, or even cafeteria line workers.

Redistricting - redrawing the borders that determine which schools children attend - is an incendiary issue, especially in suburban counties, where growth has forced a boom in school construction.

The last redistricting effort in Carroll shifted 3,170 children during a period of three years from quickly developing South Carroll to the Westminster area, and was approved in March 2000.

Maps of the changes are available on the school system's Internet site at http://ccpl.carr.org/ccps and at each of the affected elementary schools.

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