School boundary panel has 2 plans

Opening of new high school next fall requires changes

Options presented to public

Committee proposes changes to middle school districts

Howard County

September 22, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

After months of work winnowing down six proposals, the Howard County School Boundary Line committee presented two high school redistricting plans to the public last night as the county prepares to open Marriott's Ridge High next fall.

The two plans - dubbed "green" and "red" - would start the process of filling the county's 12th high school, being built on Route 99 in Marriottsville. Similar to the opening of Reservoir High School in 2002, Marriott's Ridge will start with freshmen and sophomores.

The red plan would redraw boundaries for the 11 existing high schools, while the green plan would not affect Atholton, Wilde Lake or Reservoir. The red plan, however, meets the committee's school enrollment target of 90 percent to 110 percent of capacity at all schools, while the green proposal does not.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of an editing error, an article Wednesday about Howard County's two high school redistricting proposals, dubbed the red plan and the green plan, incorrectly placed a recommended line adjustment under the wrong plan. Hammond High School students from the areas of Hopewell and the northern section of MacGills would go to Oakland Mills High School only under the red plan. The Sun regrets the error.

The committee also made moderate adjustments to middle school boundaries, some of which are contingent on which high school plan is selected.

"We've been redistricting almost every year because of growth," David C. Drown, the school system's coordinator of geographical systems, told an audience of about 150 people at Hammond High School. "The school system is growing at the rate of 700 students each year - bigger than one middle school."

Under the green plan, students from Glenelg, Mount Hebron, River Hill and Centennial high schools would make up the Marriott's Ridge population.

The green plan recommendations include:

Sending Mount Hebron High students residing west of Old Mill Road and Bethany Lane and north of U.S. 40 to Marriott's Ridge. Also, students west of the Longview Drive and Hearthstone Road intersection along the neighborhood's creek would go to Marriott's Ridge.

Sending Glenelg High students east of Underwood Road and north of Interstate 70, including pupils who now live in the Glenelg High district and attend Mount View Middle School, to Marriott's Ridge.

Sending River Hill High students north of Folly Quarter Road and east of Jumpers Hill Lane to Marriott's Ridge.

Reassigning River Hill High students in the northern Green Bridge area to Glenelg High.

Sending Howard High School students from the Wheatfield neighborhood to Centennial High.

Reassigning Hammond High students from the areas of Hopewell, Guilford Gardens and Solar Walk to Oakland Mills High.

The red plan is considered more aggressive because it would shuffle 2,471 students - 369 more than the green plan - to new schools by the time Marriott's Ridge High School has a senior class (2007-2008).

Students from Glenelg, Mount Hebron and Centennial high schools would fill Marriott's Ridge in the red plan.

The red plan changes include:

Reassigning Glenelg High students north of Interstate 70 and east of Woodbine Road to Marriott's Ridge.

Sending Mount Hebron High students west of Old Mill Road and Bethany Lane, north of U.S. 40, to Marriott's Ridge.

Reassigning Wilde Lake High students who live near The Mall in Columbia along Broken Land and Little Patuxent parkways to Atholton High.

Sending Reservoir High students in the Browns Bridge area to River Hill High.

Reassigning Atholton High students along Simpson and Hall Shop roads to River Hill High.

Sending River Hill High students in the Green Bridge and Triadelphia areas to Glenelg High.

In some school districts, both plans call for the same boundary adjustments:

Reassigning Centennial High students in the neighborhoods of Globe, Terra Maria and Tuscany to Marriott's Ridge.

Sending Centennial High students in Worthington, northern Ellicott City and on New Cut Road to Mount Hebron High.

Sending Hammond High students from the areas of Hopewell and the northern areas of MacGill to Oakland Mills High.

Sending Howard High students from Hunting Horn, Brightfield Farms and Montgomery Run to Long Reach High.

The committee's recommended adjustments for middle schools under the red plan would realign those in east Columbia, including:

Sending pupils in the area of northern MacGills neighborhood from Hammond Middle to Oakland Mills Middle.

Reassigning Patuxent Valley Middle pupils on Ridgeview Drive and Guilford Road between Interstate 95 and Broken Land Parkway to Cradlerock School.

Under the green plan, pupils from west of the Longview Drive and Hearthstone Road intersection along the creek would be reassigned to Burleigh Manor Middle from Patapsco Middle - now at 117 percent of capacity in enrollment. Several other boundary changes not contingent on the high school plans were recommended to address over-enrollment at Patapsco.

The committee used several criteria to reshape boundaries, including the school capacity goal, feeder systems that move children from middle to high schools, socioeconomic standing, academic performance and distance.

"All of them lost at least one night of sleep because this is not easy," Drown said of the members.

The group also considered several factors, including renovations at Howard High, a projected renovation at Glenelg, the 260-seat addition at Oakland Mills completed last year, and the phasing out of the tech-magnet programs at Long Reach and River Hill high schools, which would scatter about 800 students back to their home schools.

The committee is holding a meeting at 7:30 tonight at Centennial High, 4300 Centennial Lane in Ellicott City.

Final recommendations will be presented Oct. 28 to the county Board of Education, followed by two public hearings. The school board is scheduled to approve a final plan Nov. 23.

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