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Redistricting plan would ease school overcrowding

March 21, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A proposed redistricting plan would lower student enrollment at several overcrowded Washington County elementary schools to within state maximum-capacity standards, according to details discussed Tuesday during a committee meeting.

If the plan's series of student moves is adopted, the student population of at least one school - Emma K. Doub - would shrink slightly but remain above state and local capacity standards, according to projections.

At its meeting Tuesday, the facilities enrollment advisory committee discussed shuffling some students from Emma K. Doub and Funkstown schools to a planned elementary school in the Westfields community south of Hagerstown.

According to the proposal, students from Bester and Eastern elementary schools also would be shuffled, lowering the student enrollments at those schools, while adding students to the under-capacity Lincolnshire Elementary School and bringing up the numbers at Emma K. Doub and Funkstown.

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The Westfields school is one of the schools that officials say could open in the fall of 2008. The Washington County Board of Education must vote on a redistricting plan by April 2008 for the changes to start in the 2008-09 school year, said Boyd Michael, assistant superintendent for school operations.

Michael said the redistricting committee plans to submit its recommendations, including possible proposed changes to the enrollment zones of other elementary schools, to the board by July 16. The committee plans to present the proposals to the public later this spring.

According to the plan, Emma K. Doub, which has classes for students in grades 3 to 5, would become a school for students in grades 1 to 5, and Funkstown, which has classes for students in grades prekindergarten to 2, would become an early-childhood center for prekindergartners and kindergartners.

Numbers presented by facilities planner Robert Spong project in 2008 the changes would leave 176 students at Funkstown, where the state-rated capacity is 200 students or fewer. Bester's 2008 enrollment would be 476 students - about 40 students fewer than the state-rated capacity, but still more students than the local-rated capacity of 460 students. The school now has 566 students.

Eastern, which now exceeds the state-rated capacity by more than 100 students, would have a 2008 enrollment of 503 students. The state-rated capacity for the school is 514 students; the local-rated capacity, which calls for even smaller classes, is 462 students.

According to the plan, Lincolnshire's enrollment also would exceed local-rated capacity, but comply with the state standards. Projections show 511 students would attend the school in 2008, according to the redistricting plan. The state-rated capacity is 564 students, and the local-rated capacity is 478 students.

Even after the proposed redistricting, Emma K. Doub still would exceed both the state-rated capacity of 299 students and the local-rated capacity of 269 students. Projections show 304 students would attend the school in 2008, compared to 311 this year.

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