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No consensus on new Mays Chapel school boundaries

Since it began meeting last month, the Baltimore County Public Schools boundary study committee has viewed the various options presented through the committee's guidelines to balance enrollment and fill the new school now under construction in Mays Chapel.

But when the committee met on Wednesday, Nov. 20, for a final time to choose options to bring to a Dec. 11 public meeting, both committee and community members found their interests to be at odds with the other's mandates.

"I think it has been evolving over the last several weeks as more and more people tuned into the process," Michael Quinn, the committee chair and parent representative from Pot Spring Elementary, said. "People have been making their views known. We've seen them in the email traffic, at the last meeting and at this meeting as well. But it's all part of the process."

Matt Cropper, principal of Cropper GIS, who is leading the redistricting meetings, reminded the committee of its charges, including balancing enrollment across the region, maintaining socioeconomic diversity and using natural boundaries.

"You're not on this committee to advocate for your school," he said. "I know you have bias. Every parent in this room is thinking about their child and their school and what's best for their area. … But you really need to focus on what's best for the entire region."

The feedback, both during the meeting and leading up to it, according to Cropper, seemed to betray that. Some committee members and parents rather than consider issues such as diversity, instead asked the committee to take into account those families who bought houses in a particular neighborhood which fed to a particular school. Others questioned whether the goal should be to move as few students as possible rather than balance all of the enrollments.

As he did in the last two meetings, Cropper again presented three more new options based on feedback about the previously shown options. One of the newest, Option 7, he said, maintains as much of Padonia's walking core and creates a clearer divide as to which Lutherville Laboratory Elementary students will move and to where.

Options 8 and 9, which were not presented on Nov. 20, were aimed to give Pot Spring Elementary a portion of its northern boundary back in an effort to maintain the school's diversity, Cropper said. To do that, students had to be moved from several schools, including Timonium, Pinewood and Riderwood elementaries.

Those options, however, were not chosen for presentation at the Dec. 11 meeting. The committee voted that four options — 4, 5, 6 and 7 — were their selections moving forward.

For a detailed view of each option, visit http://www.croppermap.com/bcpsredistricting/ or see the accompanying list.

Cropper said the Dec. 11 meeting at Dulaney High School would not be an open-microphone format. After hearing a presentation about the process and options on the table, the community will be asked to fill out a survey either in person or online.

The community meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Dulaney High School.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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