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Washington Co. BOE to move forward with redistricting plan

Decision came despite outcry from Keedysville residents

Decision came despite outcry from Keedysville residents

February 12, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A decision whether to move 160 Boonsboro Elementary School students to a new school being built south of Hagerstown could be made during a public meeting next week.

The Washington County Board of Education decided Tuesday to move forward with the proposed redistricting plan.

This decision came despite an outcry from the Keedysville community, which has been perhaps the most openly opposed to the plan. The proposed changes affect mostly students to the west and northwest of Boonsboro, including the town of Keedysville.

Board Member Wayne D. Ridenour said Tuesday that he does not support the proposal.

"We condensed the time frame a little too much," he said. "We didn't get the input from the Keedysville people that we did in the first (redistricting effort)."

A committee began working on a redistricting plan for many county schools about a year ago, and proposals were presented to the school board in July. Officials have said redistricting is necessary to relieve overcrowding at many of the county's elementary schools, and to fill the new Rockland Woods Elementary and two replacement schools for Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools.

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In November, three proposals to move 23 children from Boonsboro and 123 students from Greenbrier Elementary were dismissed, and the committee was asked to draft a redistricting plan, but only to relieve overcrowding at Boonsboro.

Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael said Tuesday that Rockland Woods does not have to be filled. If the school opened with its existing boundaries, about 470 students would attend the school that is designed to hold about 750, he said.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said that might affect state funding for area school construction.

"If we aren't filling the schools we build, I don't think it's going to look very good for the county," she said.

Katrina Toombs was one of about 15 people who attended the board's discussion on redistricting Tuesday. She said the proposal should have been "dropped" during that work session.

She said she believes it was not dropped because officials are concerned about leaving open seats at Rockland Woods and the impact that could have on state funding.

"This whole thing has made me look at homeschooling," she said. "Because the board clearly does not care about my children."

Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham suggested using creative ideas, like possibly having open enrollment for Rockland Woods.

Michael and Morgan agreed that open enrollment was a good idea for Rockland Woods.

Ridenour said that presents some logistical problems when trying to anticipate how many students will be attending the school at the start of each year.

Morgan also said that establishing a signature program at the new school is a good idea.

"That facility exists to support such a program," said Board President Roxanne R. Ober, referring to dedicated science labs at Rockland Woods.

Morgan said the students, parents and community should be involved in specifying the type of enrichment program available to students at Rockland Woods.

"I think there's a lot of rich possibility for what can happen at Rockland (Woods)," she said.




If you go



What: Washington County Board of Education business meeting where a vote on a redistricting proposal could take place

When: Feb. 21, 6 p.m.

Where: Washington County Public Schools central office, 820 Commonwealth Ave. in Hagerstown

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