Cousin offers district plan

Schools chief stays with staff proposal


An elementary school redistricting plan recommended by Howard County Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin offers no significant changes to an earlier proposal drafted by the school system's planning office.

Cousin's recommendations for filling a new elementary school in Dayton, opening in August, and relieving crowding at neighboring schools follow the boundary adjustments suggested by David C. Drown, the school system's manager of school planning, and a citizens advisory committee. Cousin's proposal was to be unveiled at a school board meeting last night.

The school system is also making moderate changes at the middle school level - particularly to relieve crowding at Patapsco Middle and to fill open seats at Burleigh Manor. Besides suggestions by staff, Cousin unveiled an alternative plan for redistricting several middle schools.

This year's redistricting process affects mostly elementary schools in the western region of Howard County, where growth has transformed rural land into subdivisions.

School redistricting has been a byproduct of the rapid growth, becoming one of the most contentious education issues in the county. This year, school officials revamped its redistricting process to create more stability and reduce anxiety associated with the task.

"It more adequately ties capital planning to redistricting," Drown said this week. "The other improvement is there is a stronger focus on long-term planning."

The superintendent's recommendations include filling the Dayton elementary school with pupils from two schools: Triadelphia Ridge and Clarksville. Triadelphia Ridge would move the most pupils, 433, with Clarksville Elementary moving 222.

The moves would create space at both schools and would provide relief at Manor Woods and West Friendship elementaries. About 120 pupils from Manor Woods and 102 from West Friendship would transfer to Triadelphia Ridge.

Clarksville would get 96 pupils from Pointers Run.

To relieve crowded Fulton Elementary, 138 pupils would transfer to Pointers Run Elementary.

A proposal for middle schools centers on neighborhoods in Ellicott City and the northeast portion of the county.

Patapsco Middle pupils - 105 from the Kaiser Farm property off U.S. 40 and the High Ridge neighborhood in Ellicott City - would move to Dunloggin Middle.

Dunloggin would then need relief, so 104 pupils there would transfer to Ellicott Mills Middle.

To fill available seats at Burleigh Manor, 63 Mount View Middle pupils, who live along Bethany Lane and in the Pine Orchard neighborhood, would move there.

Another move would shift 52 pupils who attended Manor Woods Elementary from Folly Quarter Middle to Mount View.

Cousin's alternative plan involves moving fewer pupils from Patapsco Middle. For instance, 60 from the High Ridge neighborhood would stay at Patapsco, instead of transferring to Dunloggin.

As a result, 42 fewer pupils from Dunloggin would move to Ellicott Mills.

Another change would transfer about 20 pupils living in the North Chatham Apartments in Ellicott City from Patapsco to Burleigh Manor. To align the feed from middle to high school, students from the apartment complex would attend Centennial High School, instead of Mount Hebron, starting next school year.

One advantage of the superintendent's alternative plan is that it moves fewer middle school pupils, Drown said. It also ensures that most of the feeds - or promoted pupils an elementary school sends to a new middle school - is no less than 15 percent, a stricter standard under the school system's revised redistricting policy.

Only one feed, from Pointers Run Elementary to Lime Kiln Middle, falls below that, at about 13 percent. Drown said that feed would be fixed in the next several years with the pupil enrollment growth expected in the southeast, near Fulton, or by reducing the attendance area for Lime Kiln Middle in the future.

The school board has scheduled three work sessions, beginning with one at 7 p.m. Thursday, at the Board of Education building. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8.

The school board is set to make its decision Nov. 22.

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