Redistricting to be reconsidered

January 09, 2002

Redistricting to be reconsidered


The Washington County Board of Education decided Tuesday afternoon to return all but one of the recommendations rejected by the Blue Ribbon Redistricting Committee to the table.

Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the move might take time and upset some members of the committee.

The committee, made up of 50 parents, business and community leaders and some school staff, spent about three months working on recommendations to help decrease enrollments at some schools and increase it at others.

"Could they perceive that they wasted their time?" Morgan said to School Board members about reviving the proposals.

"We need to look at the entire picture," School Board member Roxanne Ober said. "I think we have an obligation to look at all the different issues."

In addition to 12 recommendations approved by the committee, the School Board will consider the following proposals the committee had rejected:


HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Move 36 students from Williamsport Elementary School to Fountain Rock Elementary School.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Extend the boundary line of Boonsboro High School to encompass the area whose western boundary is the Norfolk-Southern rail line, north to Roxbury Road, sending 80 Williamsport High School students to Boonsboro High School.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Move the boundary of the Clear Spring High School attendance line to the east of Cedar Ridge Road, sending 14 students from Williamsport High School to Clear Spring High School.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Extend the southern boundary line of the Smithsburg High School attendance area to Interstate 70 east to the Frederick County line, west to the current Boonsboro/South Hagerstown High School line, sending 63 Boonsboro High School students to Smithsburg High School.

The School Board decided not to consider sending 29 Old Forge Elementary School students to Cascade Elementary School. The committee also had rejected that proposal.

Ober said the board should look at all available options so the board doesn't have to fix mistakes in the future.

"I want to make sure I know everything before I do a vote," Ober said. "If that requires more time, I don't think that is criticizing the Blue Ribbon Redistricting Committee. I don't think it's questioning the time and work they put in."

Committee member Jenny Belliotti said the panel could have studied more redistricting options if it had been given more time.

"They gave us the timeline that we had to adhere to," said Belliotti, president of the Washington County Council of PTAs.

The School Board tentatively plans to take a final vote on the redistricting recommendations Jan. 22.

The board must make a decision by Jan. 31 for the recommendations to go into effect by next school year, according to board policy.

Committee Co-Chair Scott Nicewarner said he didn't see the board's actions as a waste of the committee's time. But he cautioned the board on considering new recommendations that the committee did not discuss.

"We knew full well going into it that the recommendations we voted on can be accepted or rejected by the board," Nicewarner said.

"But I would have a major concern if there are additional movements of students beyond those recommendations that were voted on because those people affected were not given the opportunity to respond to that," he said.

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