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School board fails to OK Rockland Woods redistricting proposal

Parents of Boonsboro students are thrilled their children won't be moved

Parents of Boonsboro students are thrilled their children won't be moved

February 22, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Board of Education on Thursday failed to approve a redistricting proposal that would have moved 160 Boonsboro Elementary School students to a new school being built south of Hagerstown.

The school board has discussed the possibility since late January.

Parents of Boonsboro Elementary students said they were thrilled by the decision not to move their children to the new Rockland Woods Elementary School.

The proposal affected mostly children to the west and northwest of Boonsboro, including the town of Keedysville. Keedysville residents were the most critical of the plan, saying it would have broken up their community and caused problems with transporting their children to and from school each day.

Without any support from the Board of Education, the proposal died Thursday before a vote was taken. Board Vice President Donna Brightman said that although she made a motion to discuss the proposal, she ultimately would have voted against it.

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"I'm elated," Melissa Waugerman of Keedysville said.

Her child, who would be in fifth grade next year, likely would have been able to stay at Boonsboro, but Waugerman said the proposal would have divided the community.

Diane Clingan, also of Keedysville, took her two daughters to Thursday's meeting. Both are Boonsboro Elementary School students who do not live in the affected area, but the girls said they did not want their friends to move to another school.

"If they moved all of those children, they'd lose their friends," Clingan said. "They'd lose eight teachers, so class sizes would get bigger."

Brightman said that the redistricting plan is now "dead," and she believes it is unlikely that another plan will be presented that would move children for the upcoming school year.

If Rockland Woods Elementary opened with its current attendance boundary, it would have about 470 students enrolled.

Board members have discussed the possibility of open enrollment for the school, an enrichment program there and other options.

Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael has said that it is not necessary to fill Rockland Woods, which has capacity for 750 students.

Michael and Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan have said that open enrollment is a good idea for the school.

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 2007. Officials have said that redistricting is necessary to relieve overcrowding at many of the county's elementary schools, and to create a student body for Rockland Woods Elementary.

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.

Board Member Wayne D. Ridenour said Thursday that he could not support the most recent redistricting proposal because it did not provide any relief for an overcrowded Greenbrier. During a meeting last week, Ridenour also said that the time frame for decision-making on the most recent proposal was condensed and not enough input was sought from the Keedysville community.

The Board of Education did not ask the committee to examine redistricting again after failing to approve its most recent proposal.

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