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School officials discuss proposed redistricting plan

August 08, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A magnet program or morning childcare could make redistricting more appealing to parents wary of moving their children to Rockland Woods Elementary School.

Washington County Board of Education Member Donna Brightman said those possibilities and others might take the "sting" out of a proposed redistricting plan that affects children at many of the county's elementary schools.

"What can we do as the Board of Education to make this a less painful process?" she asked.

Officials discussed during a Tuesday work session the redistricting proposal drafted by the facilities and enrollment advisory committee.

Redistricting is necessary to ease overcrowding at some schools and to fill Rockland Woods Elementary, slated to open in 2008 in the Westfields housing development, officials have said.

Larger replacement schools for Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools also are slated to open that year.

The committee proposed moving students to Rockland Woods from Fountain Rock (133), Boonsboro (23), Greenbrier (94), Funkstown (158), Emma K. Doub (150) and Sharpsburg (2) elementary schools, according to information presented to the board.

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Students from Paramount (201) and Conococheague (16) elementary schools will move to Maugansville Elementary, according to the proposed changes. The attendance zone for Pangborn Elementary could remain the same.

Funkstown Elementary would enroll only prekindergarten and kindergarten students, according to the proposal. Emma K. Doub Elementary would take on first- and second-graders in addition to the third- through fifth-graders who currently attend the school. The proposal also includes keeping Conococheague Elementary open, delaying previous plans to close the school.

Other changes also are included in the draft proposal. The Board of Education discussed the possible changes Tuesday, and also is planning to hold a public hearing and other meetings for parents.

Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham said there was discussion that redistricting would not be necessary in Washington County for about four years, but that is not a promise the board should make.

Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael said that it is possible that in only a few years Rockland Woods Elementary would be at capacity, with several other schools not far behind.

Boonsboro Elementary, which will lose 23 students to Rockland Woods in the proposed redistricting plan, was a school that officials said they wanted to move more students from.

"Boonsboro is one of the schools that is overcrowded and continues to be more overcrowded as it grows," Michael said. "We wanted to take more children (from that school)."

Brightman said that the boundary would have to be moved farther south in order to include a large number of students from Boonsboro. Officials said that might create longer bus rides, which committee members have said they wanted to keep to 45 minutes and less.

Board members said they would decide when to hold a public hearing and other forums during an upcoming business meeting.

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