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School board considers redistricting

January 29, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Board of Education President Roxanne R. Ober said Sunday that the redistricting of some county schools will be necessary after a new elementary school and replacement schools for two others are built.

The school board will vote Feb. 6 whether to ask an advisory committee to review enrollment data and other information related to redistricting.

Ober said the last major redistricting in the county was more than five years ago. Minor redistricting that affects only one or two families occurs more often, she said.

"I don't think families want to be disrupted as far as where their students are attending schools," Ober said. "I don't blame them."

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A new Pangborn Elementary School is expected to hold nearly 750 students. The existing school has 620 students - 139 more than its state-rated capacity.

A new Maugansville Elementary School is expected to hold about 735 students. The school's current enrollment is 337 students - about 20 more than its state-rated capacity.

A new elementary school in the Westfields community off Sharpsburg Pike is expected to have capacity for about 750 students.

All three schools are expected to open in 2008.

"We'll have to do a lot of redistricting to fill a lot of those seats ...," Ober said.

Students at the Westfields elementary school will come from that community, but also from other nearby elementary schools that are overcrowded, she said.

Leslie LeBlanc, the chairperson of the facilities and enrollment advisory committee, said it is likely that students from the Boonsboro and Funkstown areas could go to the new Westfields school.

The committee's purpose is to "review enrollment data and facilities usage information to offer recommendations to the Board of Education on the most efficient and educationally effective use of school facilities," according to a school board document.

LeBlanc said if a decision is made about redistricting for elementary schools, it would create a "domino effect" at the middle school and high school level.

"(The board) will ask us for a recommendation, and then we will look at the schools, look at the bus routes, look at the capacity of the schools," she said. "And I believe our plans are to go to each of the schools, the neighborhoods of the schools and ask for (parents') opinions, and then we'll make our recommendations."

Ober said she was looking forward to creative ideas from the advisory committee on ways to relieve overcrowding in the county's schools.

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