A committee that decided on a plan for redistricting elementary schools in the Catonsville and Arbutus areas presented its decision to the Baltimore County Board of Education on Feb. 2.
This was the first time the plan for the new boundaries, chosen in December, was presented to the board. Though members had some questions, they also commended the committee.
The board will vote on the boundary map March 1. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at Catonsville High School.
Board member David Uhlfelder said this is the fourth redistricting process he has been through since he was appointed to the board in 2008. Of those, it has been the most complete, he said; in addition, the committee followed procedure and there has been significant input from the public.
"I don't see any reason why as a board we should try to change anything that has been recommended," Uhlfelder said.
Nearly 1,200 responses were submitted to an online survey.
"It does seem like the planning blocks seem to be in the right place," board member Kathleen Causey said. "I'm interested in what leeway the board might have to grandfather in one or two families."
In mid-December, the Southwest Boundary Committee, comprising 45 principals, teachers, parents and community members, voted on a new boundary map that will impact 346 students. The option, 3.2b, affected the fewest students and left the boundaries for Woodbridge, Johnnycake, Westowne and Edmondson Heights Elementary untouched.
Walkability was also an important factor in the decision, according to Matt Cropper, head of Cropper GIS, the company in charge of the redistricting process.
This August, construction will be complete on new Catonsville and Westowne elementary schools, and an addition will be added to Westchester Elementary, making room for 680 additional students.
A new Relay Elementary building is expected in August 2017, adding 274 seats.
Because of the timing of those projects, implementation of the new boundaries will be staggered. Students whose homes will be in the newly zoned Catonsville, Halethorpe and Westchester will attend those schools this August. Students whose homes will be the newly zoned Relay and Arbutus will attend those schools in August 2017.
Parents can request a waiver for children who are in their final years at a certain school — for example, fourth- and fifth-graders. If that child has a sibling also attending the school, parents can apply for waiver for him or her as well.