Redistricting committee to suggest following historic borders

Plan would require busing some Rogers Forge elementary students to new school

February 16, 2010|By By Mary Gail Hare | The Baltimore Sun

A redistricting committee charged with redrawing boundaries for four elementary schools in the Towson area will make its recommendation to the Baltimore County Board of Education at its meeting rescheduled for Wednesday.

The group has chosen a plan, known as Option G, that adheres to the historic boundaries of the closely knit Rodgers Forge community of nearly 2,000 townhomes, with many children living within walking distance of their neighborhood school on Dumbarton Road.

"No one option would make everybody happy," said Alyson Bonavoglia, parent of a third-grader who will remain at Rodgers Forge Elementary. "But the board of education did a good job of bringing all of us into the process."

The plan means children of residents in the adjoining Gaywood community, the Rodgers Forge apartments and on Schwartz Avenue who attend Rodgers Forge Elementary would be bused to the new West Towson Elementary, which will open in August.

"The committee put criteria for historic boundaries above all others, and this means Rodgers Forge is likely to open this fall at or above capacity," said Melissa Broome, president of the Gaywood Community Association, a neighborhood of nearly 150 homes.

"At the end of the day, our families want to stay at Rodgers Forge," said Broome, who chose her home four years ago for its proximity to the elementary school.

Rodgers Forge Elementary serves nearly double its intended number. The school is surrounded by portable classrooms, and its older students go to class at nearby Dumbarton Middle. Keeping all neighborhood children at Rodgers Forge would mean opening the building in the fall above its enrollment capacity of about 400, school officials said.

State construction funding requires boundary options that take Rodgers Forge below capacity and ensure that West Towson, a $25 million school about two miles away on North Charles Street, opens below its capacity of 451 students, officials said. The new boundaries will also affect Riderwood and Hampton elementary schools.

The board is under no obligation to accept the 10-member committee's recommendation. The panel will not vote on the redistricting plan until gathering comment at a March 10 public hearing.

Barbara Walker, the central area assistant superintendent who worked with the committee, said members came up with about a dozen scenarios and pared those down to four.

"There is a case for all the scenarios and no answer that will please everybody," she said.

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