In a split vote, the Baltimore County Board of Education decided to close Campfield Early Learning Center.
The decision passed 6-5 Tuesday, with board members Robin L. Harvey, Jane E. Lichter, Rod McMillion, Christina M. Pumphrey, Brenda Savoy and Emory L. Young voting in favor of the school closure. Tiara D. Booker-Dwyer, Maggie Litz Domanowski, Tiffany Lashawn S. Frempong, Julie Henn and Felicia Stolusky voted against the closure.
The closure will go into effect in 2026. As a result, students will be redirected to their zoned schools or regional centers for educational services.
Campfield, located on Alter Street near Gwynn Oaks and Lochearn, serves as a Judy Center, meaning it’s designed to help promote school readiness for young children by providing families with services such as child care and health services. The school teaches prekindergarten and kindergarten students. A third of the school’s students received special needs services last year, according to the school’s online dashboard.
Last month, Baltimore County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said students with special needs will continue to receive all services and supports. Superintendent Myriam Rogers affirmed this at Tuesday’s meeting, as several board members expressed concern about special needs students being moved out of what was described as a “gem” in the school system.
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“My concern is that this center is for some of our most special needs children, and their needs are being met in school,” Domanowski said. “So it’s hard for me to justify closing such a school.”
The school was recommended for closure in August as part of other capital projects in the system. In the northwest part of the county, 1,200 more seats are being added to elementary schools, according to Pete Dixit, the system’s executive director of facilities management and strategic planning, and Paul Taylor, director of strategic planning, at last month’s meeting.
Dixit described the Campfield building on Tuesday as old and in need of maintenance. Although it is safe for students, he said, new facilities will be far superior.
Other board members referenced stories of students receiving extremely high levels of care, such as when a teacher carried a student from the bus to the classroom every day for a week just to make the student feel comfortable. They expressed worry about these students transitioning from place where they are fully served. Rogers said such experiences should not be exclusive to Campfield and instead be universal for all county students.
“Because of the welcoming atmosphere, we’re able to overlook some of the challenges that exist, like transportation, having some of our youngest learners taking very long bus rides to get to and from Campfield Early Learning Center, and the transition that occurs after you have finished the pathway of Campfield — you have to transition to another school,” Rogers said. “And so, I think our challenge, our responsibility is to create the atmosphere that every student should experience in their school.”
Rogers said all Campfield services have been made accessible at students’ home schools with the exception of the Judy Center. She said that though a specific space has yet to be designated, a process to move the center’s services out of Campfield is underway.
The school closure comes as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a monumental funding process that will pump billions into the state’s schools over the next decade, plans for the expansion of full-day prekindergarten programming, as well as the creation of more Judy Centers.