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Primary school could shape redistricting plan

February 10, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A new school in Hagerstown's east end probably will be at the root of a countywide redistricting analysis.

A committee coming up with a redistricting plan by December started its work Tuesday during a meeting with administrators.

Adam Lewis, co-chairman of the Washington County Public Schools Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee, said the first goal is fitting the new Eastern Primary School into the attendance map.

Eastern Primary School is expected to open in 2011 with room for 695 students in prekindergarten to second grade. It will be off Yale Drive, near the existing Eastern Elementary School.

Last month, the Washington County Board of Education agreed that the facilities committee should look at a long-term redistricting plan, possibly affecting the whole county.

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On Tuesday, the committee discussed data showing which schools have more students than their target capacity.

Overcrowding is expected to be most acute among elementary schools. Fifteen are considered overcapacity based on September 2008 enrollment. By 2013-14, the number is expected to increase to 18, according to an enrollment overview.

One middle school and three high schools are projected to be overcrowded by 2013-14.

The elementary schools expected to have the most students more than capacity include Boonsboro (220 overcapacity), Greenbrier (135), Maugansville (132), Conococheague (124) and Salem Avenue (124).

Eight elementary schools are expected to have fewer students than their capacity, including Cascade (120 under capacity), Lincolnshire (69), Paramount (64) and Fountain Rock (62).

During the last round of redistricting, which took effect at the start of the current school year, 17 schools were affected, The Herald-Mail reported last month. More schools might see changes this time.

At the center of the study will be Eastern Primary School, which will have room for 695 students, with a target capacity of 625.

Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael has said changes in school attendance zones wouldn't start before 2009-10 and might be phased in.

The facilities committee heard the possibility of the district adjusting its target capacity from 90 percent per school to about 93 percent.

Proposed housing developments, the new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, the condition of school buildings and the number of portable classrooms might be factors in the redistricting analysis.

However, committee members were advised not to factor in another high school in Hagerstown's east end, which isn't a certainty.

The committee will meet again Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at the school system's central office.

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