Redistricting proposal would move Baltimore Highlands elementary students

As many as 182 students from Baltimore Highlands Elementary School could be sent to Lansdowne Elementary next year under a redistricting plan being considered by the school board.

The school system is redrawing boundaries for several southwest county schools as it prepares to open a new Lansdowne Elementary building next year. The new building will be able to hold 709 students, more than double the capacity of the 50-year-old building it is replacing.

“The intention is to provide relief to overcrowding, particularly in Baltimore Highlands,” said Russell Brown, the Baltimore County school system’s chief accountability officer.

Baltimore Highlands Elementary is 163 students over its capacity of 549.

A committee that is coming up with boundary proposals considered moving 40 students to Lansdowne from Riverview Elementary, which is 15 students over its capacity of 572, but decided not to move forward with those plans.

Adaisha Boddie, whose daughter is a third-grader at Baltimore Highlands Elementary, lives in one of the neighborhoods the committee is considering reassigning to Lansdowne Elementary. She said she had not heard from the school about that possibility, but that if her daughter were moved, she “wouldn’t be pleased.

“My daughter’s been going to Baltimore Highlands since pre-K,” Boddie said. “She’s comfortable there, not only with the staff but with her friends. I don’t know how my daughter will adapt to change.”

Boddie said she is concerned that the before- and after-school program she relies on to care for her daughter while she is at work would not be offered at Lansdowne Elementary. She also worries about her daughter’s safety because Lansdowne is not walking distance from her home.

“People identify with their schools and have strong feelings about their schools, and changes are hard,” Brown said, acknowledging that redistricting can be contentious.

Parents of students who will enter fourth or fifth grade in 2018 have the option of requesting that their children remain in their schools, Brown said.

BoddieBoddie said her daughter’s busy classroom of 27 students is a good thing, because it allows her to socialize and make friends with a diverse group of people.

“Is it overcrowded? Yes, it’s probably overcrowded. But you have to think about the families you’re affecting,” she said.

Parents in the area surrounding Lansdowne Elementary School will have the chance to voice their opinions on a plan to move students to the new elementary school at an upcoming public meeting.

“We certainly do want input from folks,” Brown said. “And the earlier we get the input, the better.”

The meeting will be held Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at Lansdowne High School.

Brown said the purpose is to get public input before making a recommendation to the school board on Nov. 21. A final vote is expected Dec. 19.

Parents can see the various options the committee is considering online using an interactive map. The committee has narrowed 10 options for student shifts to four.

The homes most likely to be affected in Baltimore Highlands are those north of Michigan Avenue and in the northwest corner of the area, off McDowell Lane.

The plans will slightly change the ratio of minority students and those in the Free and Reduced Meals program as students from Baltimore Highlands, which has higher percentages of both, are moved to Lansdowne.

Overall, the number of students able to walk to school could be reduced by as many as 177.

Parents can also participate in an online survey starting Oct. 19 through Nov. 2, or use the email feedback form to submit comments to the committee, Brown said.

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