Baltimore County

Redistricting plan would move 1,220 elementary school students

More than 1,200 elementary school students in southeastern Howard County could be moved to different schools next year under a redistricting plan submitted by Superintendent Sydney Cousin.

Cousin's recommendation, presented to the school board Thursday, Oct. 20, would affect 5.4 percent of the county's elementary students, shifting a total of 1,220 students westward to ease overcrowding in the eastern part of the county.

The recommendation followed weeks of collecting public input, during which some 200 residents turned out for public meetings, said Joel Gallihue, manager of school planning, and as a result, differed from plans suggested in the 2011 Feasibility Study.

"Our overall strategy includes this redistricting," Gallihue said. "It's very important that we take advantage of the capacity in the west, in order to relieve the southeast. Not all of the schools in the region (are affected), just the ones that are overcrowded. … These are the schools that are driving the need for this redistricting."

Under the recommendation, Hammond Elementary would absorb 211 students from Atholton Elementary and 36 from Guilford Elementary, while moving 199 of its students to Fulton Elementary.

Guilford would take 53 students from Bollman Bridge Elementary, and 53 from Laurel Woods Elementary. Laurel Woods would also move 16 students to Forest Ridge Elementary. Laurel Woods would not absorb any students from redistricting.

An additional 89 students would be moved from Forest Ridge to Bollman Bridge.

At Fulton, 104 additional students would be absorbed from Gorman Crossing Elementary, while 381 of Fulton's students would be moved to either under-capacity Dayton Oaks Elementary or Pointers Run Elementary.

As a result of the proposed redistricting, nine of the 10 schools affected would have improved capacity, Gallihue said, and schools that show overcrowding in coming years could be relieved by the end of the decade, because those students would be in the vicinity of a planned elementary school.

In his recommendation, Cousin noted that the proposed plan could postpone the need for that second new elementary school to 2019. A second round of elementary redistricting is proposed for the 2013-2014 academic year, to coincide with the opening of an elementary school on Ducketts Lane, in Elkridge.

The board will vote on the recommendations Nov. 17. Before then, work sessions have been scheduled for Nov. 3, 10 and 15 and public hearings have been scheduled for Nov. 8 and 15.

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