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Clear Spring redistricting plan rejected

School officials say overcrowding at elementary school must be relieved

School officials say overcrowding at elementary school must be relieved

July 21, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- A controversial proposal to bus Clear Spring students to Hancock was discussed again Tuesday night then rejected by a school redistricting committee.

A previous proposal to bus Clear Spring students to Hancock was tabled earlier this year.

The proposal before the committee Tuesday night involved moving 36 elementary school students from Clear Spring Elementary to Hancock Elementary.

The proposal died when committee member Kira Hamman made a motion to reject it. One of Hamman's concerns was uprooting the Clear Spring students from their community.

Clear Spring residents have been critical of plans to bus their children to Hancock, citing longer commutes, the potential danger of buses on an interstate, a difference in educational offerings and the overall change to the community.

The discussion about students being bused on an interstate came up again Tuesday night, although school officials said relying on interstates to transport students is not unusual.

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"Baltimore and those places, you're on the beltway constantly," said Boyd Michael, deputy superintendent for Washington County Public Schools.

Although the latest plan to bus Clear Spring students to Hancock was shot down, school officials said overcrowding at Clear Spring Elementary is an issue that will have to be resolved.

Clear Spring Elementary will need a portable classroom this year to relieve overcrowding and growth at the school that is expected to continue past 2012, Michael said.

"It's a no-win situation," he said.

"This problem is not going to go away," said committee member Bert Iseminger, who added he has not made up his mind about any of the redistricting plan.

The committee is in the early stages of a countywide review of school capacity, aiming for a better balance between crowded schools and those with extra space.

A key factor is the expected 2011 opening of Eastern Primary School in Hagerstown. The school, near the existing Eastern Elementary School, would have room for 695 students, but its target capacity is 625.

The committee worked on other parts of the plan Tuesday night and discussed having public forums where the proposals will be explained.

Although no dates have been selected, the committee is thinking about holding the forums in September in the Boonsboro, Smithsburg and Hagerstown areas, officials said.

After the public forums, the committee will take a final vote on a redistricting plan before sending their recommendation to the Washington County Board of Education, Iseminger said.

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