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Committee to discuss school redistricting

March 12, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

Many Washington County Public Schools students could be affected by the outcome of a redistricting effort in parts of the county.

A new elementary school in the Westfields community south of Hagerstown and its impact on surrounding areas is expected to be discussed at a meeting tonight.

The meeting is at 6:30 in the Summit Room of the central office of Washington County Public Schools at 820 Commonwealth Ave. in Hagerstown.

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The facilities and enrollment advisory committee - made up of parents, business people and community leaders - will meet for the second time tonight. It was given the task of working on a redistricting plan for Washington County Public Schools by the Board of Education in early February.

When the committee has completed its work, it will make a recommendation to the board, Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael said.

Michael and facilities planner Robert Spong are the primary staff contacts for the committee. Parent representatives Leslie LeBlanc and Adam Lewis are leading the committee.

"They've had a variety of maps, and looked particularly at the Westfields area," Michael said. (Westfields) has no attendance boundaries and no students."

A new elementary school in the Westfields community off Sharpsburg Pike is scheduled to open in 2008, along with replacement schools for Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools. The replacement schools will have increased capacity, and Westfields will draw students from other schools, Michael said.

Redistricting will be necessary to relieve overcrowding in some schools and to fill the new schools. The committee's work on attendance areas should be completed by mid-July, officials said.

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 is expected to have capacity for about 750 students.

Michael said the committee has asked Washington County Public Schools staff to do research, gather information and bring proposals back for discussion.

"We will draft suggestions to the committee, and then the committee will react to that," he said.

Staff members have put in more than 100 hours of research just to get to this point, he said.

At least 32 students would come from the Westfields community, a number that Michael said is sure to increase when all of the 661 units in the community are complete.

"So, eventually there will be a couple hundred (students) coming from there," he said. "Westfields (elementary) won't just have Westfields (community) students. Our hope is to look at surrounding schools and how we can provide relief to some of those schools. Most are overcrowded."

Those schools include Fountain Rock, Boonsboro, Greenbrier, Eastern, Emma K. Doub and Funkstown elementary schools, Michael said.

Staff members and the committee will look for options that would create a better educational environment for students, Michael said.

For details on the committee and its work, visit www.wcboe.k12.md.us.

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