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Parents sound off about redistricting

May 08, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WILLIAMSPORT - Matt Iager can drive for only four minutes before reaching two elementary schools.

But if affected by a proposed redistricting plan, the Boonsboro resident said his child will be attending a school 24 minutes away.

"That's too far," he said. "If you have two schools in your backyard, you shouldn't have to travel that far."

Iager was one of about 40 parents at a meeting Monday to discuss a plan to establish an attendance zone for Rockland Woods Elementary School, a new school in the Westfields development south of Hagerstown. The meeting at Williamsport High School was the second public meeting on the topic.

Melanie Beckley of Fairplay said she has similar concerns about the distance her twins will travel for school. They are enrolled at Fountain Rock Elementary School, and when Rockland Woods opens, they will attend as fourth-graders.

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Fountain Rock is less than a half-mile from Beckley's home, she said, but Rockland Woods is nearly five miles away.

"My kids love the school they are in now," she said. "I'm here fighting for their opinion. They don't want to leave."

Rockland Woods and replacement schools for Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools will open in 2008. Officials have said redistricting is necessary to relieve overcrowding in some schools and to fill Rockland Woods.

Officials expect that 158 of Funkstown's 290 students will be reassigned to the new school. Emma K. Doub (150 of 311 students), Fountain Rock (120 of 368), Boonsboro (23 of 580) and Greenbrier (87 of 340) elementary schools would send students to Rockland Woods, which will have a capacity of 745 students.

Laura Thomas of Boonsboro said the proposed boundary line for Rockland Woods runs through her 217-acre farm, splitting her property. Her son, who will enroll in kindergarten next year, would have gone to Boonsboro Elementary. She said she is concerned about the distance to Rockland Woods, and also about being separated from children in the community who will attend Boonsboro Elementary.

Kami Hoffman, of Mapleville Road in Boonsboro, said she has similar concerns about breaking up children who are friends and play on sports teams together. She also presented an alternative plan to school officials Monday that she said would benefit students and create an "easier transition."

Not all parents were against the proposed redistricting plan.

Greg Lescalleet of Hagerstown said two of his children would be reassigned to Rockland Woods, and he's thrilled.

"I think it's great," he said. "Sounds like it's going to be a great school."




To comment about the proposed redistricting plan, e-mail Washington County Public Schools officials at redistricting@wcboe.k12.md.us. or write to P.O. Box 730, 820 Commonwealth Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21741.

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