Elkridge School Construction Spurs Redistricting

New elementary, middle school construction in Elkridge part of impetus to redistrict nearly 3,000 students.

Nearly 3,000 students in Howard County may have to shift schools in 2013, in part because of developments in the Elkridge area, according to a plan proposed at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

Each June, school planners present the Feasability Study, a document containing enrollment projections and recommendations for the next year.

For the second year in a row, school officials are recommending redistricting students. Last year's recommendation was to redistrict 1,157 students. This year's recommendation is to move 2,866 students.

"The primary goal of the proposed 2013 redistricting plan is to relieve the Northeastern Region with the new capacity at ES #41," according to the study.

ES #41 refers to the  on Ducketts Lane, which can hold 600 students.

The new elementary school is needed to accommodate current school overcrowding, which is perhaps most pronounced at , which was designed for 762 students and has 952 enrolled.

With the fall 2013 opening of the school on Ducketts Lane, shifting students is necessary to ensure seats are filled, according to school planners.

Other areas where capacities need adjustment are in Columbia, according to the study.

The plan recommends that the following schools, which are at or above 110 percent capacity, be realigned:

Elementary: , , , Talbott Springs, Veterans, Waterloo
Middle: Bonnie Branch, Ellicott Mills, Murray Hill

One board member was not pleased with the numbers.

“...I know firsthand what the proposed 3,000 students and their friends and families will experience with this proposed redistricting,” wrote Board of Education member Brian Meshkin on his blog. Meshkin said he witnessed "tears and sadness" as a result of the process, which he has gone through with three of his children.

Another board member also expressed concern. The Howard County Times reported that Frank Aquino, the school board's vice chair, said the number of students who would be impacted "made me cringe."

The redistricting committee will hold its first meeting on June 19 and will convene on Tuesdays throughout the summer. There will be hearings and presentations on the issue before the Board of Education approves a redistricting plan on Nov. 15. See the schedule of redistricting meetings.

For the 2012–2013 school year, the Board of Education voted last November to approve the redistricting of 1,289 students, mainly in the southeastern portion of the county, reported the Howard County Times.

Jack June 16, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Aquino was involved when the schools in the west were overcrowded but as a member of the BOE has completely failed the citizens in the eastern half of Howard. The incompetence of the current administration in the hcpss is directly to blame. Dyer voted against artificial turf at the June 14 meeting because these children do not have adequate schools. Meshkin was very vocal and repeatedly pointed to the outdated information which continues to fuel the shortage of schools. This issue is really a lot worse because with the opening of these new schools there is the approval for more houses to be built. The route 1 corridor expects 10,000 children in the next 7 or 8 years so they need about 10 schools and there is no land. Both the Cola and Ducketts lane sites are unsuitable but there is little else. Ms. Kornreich has been on top of this issue for at least 3 years and if she were to organize the public to fight this I would gladly help her as would many others. We may not see her as a board member in November but her efforts command far more respect then the 4 carreer members of the BOE ever could.
Mr. Drew June 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Redistricting is better than overcrowded schools.
Kim Dixon June 16, 2012 at 01:42 PM
This may be true, but we all know the overcrowding of schools is from the continued building and over development of the Elkridge area. Redistricting is a temp fix not a cure. We need more responsible officials in office instead of the get rich quick ones we have now.
Leslie Kornreich June 16, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Drew, you're right, redistricting in this case is a necessary evil to fill the new school and relieve some of the overcrowding at other northeastern elementary schools. But it is not a permanent fix -- if it were, HCPSS wouldn't have to put us through the pain of it every 3 years. Even worse, many of the rising 5th graders who will have to complete their last year of elementary school at a new school will fall victims to this again when they are rising 8th graders. We need a feeder school system (like Montgomery and Fairfax counties have) that does not require this painful process every 3 years but keeps kids together throughout K-12. Howard County outgrew this polygon system a long time ago.
Mr. Drew June 16, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Agreed, the real problem is out-of-control development that is not synchronized with school planning. I worry though that there will be an argument that Elkridge schools should be left at some lower level of overcrowding relative to other schools so that the number of redistricted children can be reduced. I personally find that unacceptable. I expect that when redistricting is complete, all schools will be at the same percent of capacity.
Sandra Conway June 16, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Its SAD to see the out of control development. Overdevelopment has ruined the neighborhood i am from in Montg Co, and i see the same problems happening in the Elkridge area rather quickly. (the constant construction in every piece of green land left, traffic congestion, overcrowding). I saw this as a humble, small, friendly little town.... Not so much anymore. :(
Jack June 17, 2012 at 06:56 AM
"I expect that when redistricting is complete, all schools will be at the same percent of capacity." Redistricting will not effect the schools in the west the same. None of those children will be bussed and capacity will remain lower. Ther also will be no affordable housing built in the west.
Greg Schuckman June 17, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Wish I could agree with you Leslie but as a former Fairfax County resident who endured 4 boundary change hearings within 8 years, I can tell you that the process there is more deeply flawed than it is here in Howard. Granted, FCPS is almost quadruple the size of HCPSS, but the anguish of ripping students from one 'school pyramid' to another is something that I will never subject my children to again. There is nothing more political than school boundary changes so there will always be winners and losers in this process. As Howard County continues to grow, there will always need to be realignments along with sensible plans for growth. The trick is trying to anticipate the growth and having both land and school bonds that can accomodate that growth in the least disruptive way while also maintaining the diversity that enriches our schools and our children.
Adam R June 18, 2012 at 07:29 PM
HCPS want to move 3,000 students to attempt to fix major problems they ignored for the past 10 years, as Elkridge grew from 20,000 to 40.000 residents. This represents 6% of the total school population. Going to bury my head in the sand just like HC!
Jack June 18, 2012 at 10:01 PM
If we add the 1200 plus they voted to move last year plus those they need to address next year when they redistrict again plus add all the new children who are expected to move here which is about 10,000 equals what? Ignored begins to look more like dereliction.
Frank in Elkridge June 19, 2012 at 05:31 PM
There is no way my kids will be able to move from an overcrowded school to a brand new school without the redistricting. Most people have no idea what a difficult and challenging job it is to create a "fair" redistricting plan. No matter what plan you come with, in the end, someone will end up hating your guts for apparently "shafting" their kids or their neighborhood. Yet it has to be done - how else are two brand new empty schools going to be filled?
Jack June 20, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Somewhere the people who screwed this up for years need to be held accountable. We have many schools under capacity in the west and no affordable housing. In the east you need 10 schools, not 2 if you are going to handle all the children you have on the way with all the new building. The redistricting of 1200 and now 2800 does not include the middle school or high school redistricting which is next. The place to begin is fire the people who got you here and many of them like Aquino were here when the west was overcrowded so they have no excuse for allowing this to happen to your children. The people with this plan are the same people who had no plan. Demand they be fired and then start over or it will go on forever.
Frank in Elkridge June 20, 2012 at 04:13 PM
The BOE are elected so they cannot be fired. That what the next elections are for. You can't fire someone just because you don't agree with the all other voters who elected them.
Jack June 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
The elections are so you can hire and fire. There are a lot of people who do not agree on how our schools are run and if you happen to be one of them then speak out. You do not have to accept schools at well over 100 % capacity with new homes being built while on the other side of the county we have schools like Dayton which are half empty. Do not accept appeasement when you know other children are paying for your child's privelidge.


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