Woodholme school boundaries proposed

Two plans are unveiled for new county elementary

February 08, 2005|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County school district officials last night unveiled two sets of proposed boundaries for the new Woodholme Elementary School, scheduled to open this fall to relieve crowding at New Town Elementary School.

Under both proposals, Woodholme would draw children from New Town, Milbrook and Owings Mills elementary schools.

The only difference between the two proposals is that one would move some children from Owings Mills Elementary to Fort Garrison Elementary, and move the area around the Owings Mills mall from the New Town attendance area to the Woodholme attendance area.

The proposals were made by a 30-member committee of principals, assistant principals, district administrators, faculty, parents and community representatives. The committee also considered changing the boundaries of Winand Elementary, but decided not to.

The committee will present its recommendations and suggestions from the public to the school board, which has scheduled a vote on the boundaries in April.

At New Town, the state-set capacity is 697, and enrollment this school year is 859. There are 1,233 elementary-aged children living within New Town's current boundaries, but several hundred of them have been bused to schools outside their neighborhoods for the past two years.

Woodholme, on Mount Wilson Lane near Reisterstown Road, is being built with a capacity for 676 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, according to school district documents presented last night.

The approximately 100 people who attended last night's forum were about evenly divided between the two proposals, with a slight preference for leaving the Fort Garrison boundary unchanged.

At the forum the public was divided into groups to discuss the two proposals. People were asked to put themselves in the shoes of school board members, who must consider factors such as maximizing the number of children who can walk to school and achieving racial balance.

Of the schools whose boundaries may be affected by Woodholme, Fort Garrison is the only one with a majority white population: 87 percent. Minority enrollment exceeds 80 percent at the other schools. Winand Elementary has the highest minority enrollment, 97 percent.

Critics have pointed out that Woodholme is surrounded by retirement and over-55 communities, a rabbinical college and a funeral home, not large numbers of families with young children. School district figures presented last night showed that there are 191 elementary school-aged children living within a mile of the site.

The new school building, located at 300 Mount Wilson Lane, is 82,837 square feet. It is on 10 acres next to county softball and soccer fields, and it will have 37 classrooms, plus a computer classroom, media center and a gym that doubles as a cafeteria.

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