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Parents unhappy about WCPS redistricting

October 17, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY ? Their school is overcrowded, and some teachers without classrooms are forced to carry their supplies from room to room on a cart.

Many students learn in portable classrooms, and large events have to be held at The Maryland Theatre.

Still, many Paramount Elementary School parents say they and their children are sad they'll be forced to say goodbye to the school.

Among the 17 redistricting changes approved Tuesday during a Washington County Board of Education meeting was a decision to move about 200 Paramount students to a new Maugansville Elementary School that is opening in 2008.

The board also voted to delay the closing of Conococheague Elementary School and to enroll only prekindergarten and kindergarten students at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education.

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Each vote was unanimous.

"You know ... I understand the redistricting because of the overcrowding, but we're certainly not happy about it," Sheryl Greenwald said. "My daughter loves her school."

She said her daughter will be a fourth-grader when she attends the new Maugansville Elementary School. When she leaves that school, she will have been at three schools in four years. Greenwald said she believes that fourth-graders and fifth-graders should be allowed to stay at Paramount.

"Her academic achievement is partially due to the stability," she said. "That's kind of a lot to put a child through."

A committee began working on redistricting for many county schools earlier this year, and proposals were presented to the board in July.

Officials have said redistricting is necessary to relieve overcrowding at many of the county's elementary schools and to fill a new Rockland Woods Elementary School and replacement schools for Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools.

All three are scheduled to open in 2008.

Michelle Herson said her children live within walking distance of Paramount Elementary, and she likes the convenience of living so close to their school. When the redistricting changes approved Tuesday go into effect at the start of the 2008-09 school year, two of her children will attend Maugansville.

Herson said one of her children will be in fifth grade and will be eligible to stay at Paramount.

She said they've only attended Paramount for one year.

"I don't want them to (change schools) again," she said. "I think if affects them."

Kathy Valentine, vice president of Paramount Elementary's PTA, said that she lives in the Paradise Homes development that was included in Maugansville Elementary's attendance zone.

"I've been very active in the PTA, and it's very hard to walk away from that after four years," she said.

Valentine said she was lucky that her child will be a fifth-grader and they'll be able to decide if he stays at Paramount or goes to Maugansville.

"I think Maugansville will probably be a state-of-the-art school, but it's only for one year ... a whole new school for just one year," she said. "I'm waiting to talk to (my son) closer to the end of the school year."

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