Baltimore County Public Schools on Wednesday, Nov. 27 announced it would hold a fifth, unplanned meeting for the Mays Chapel boundary study committee after finding issues with the boundary options chosen by the committee as well as the process by which those options were chosen.
The fifth committee meeting slated for Dec. 10, will take place the day before the plans are presented to the public on Dec. 11. The committee, composed of school officials, parents, community members and representatives of the schools, has met four times since mid-October, charged with recommending to BCPS a redistricting scenario for the new elementary school being built in Mays Chapel.
But in regard to the process, some parents observing during the committee's Nov. 20 meeting asked why principals were voting on their option choices when the BCPS rule for redistricting states principals are to be non-voting members of the committee.
According to BCPS Rule 1280, principals are charged with selecting parent and teacher members from their school and liaising with the community but they are not allowed a vote in the matter. In a statement, BCPS said the ballots cast by principals were done "inadvertently."
"We felt a new vote was necessary to ensure the integrity of the selection process," Matthew Cropper, president of the consultanting firm, Cropper GIS, which is leading the boundary committee meetings for BCPS, said in a statement.
Additionally, school officials said the committee was asked to reexamine student enrollment numbers at the new school in Mays Chapel in each of the options it selected. In each of the four options selected by the committee, the 700-seat school is projected to have between 477 and 499 students — barely over 70-percent capacity.
Cropper has said during the committee meetings that the Mays Chapel school's catchment zone, which includes most of the central area west of Interstate 83, has the greatest development potential in the area. Because of that, he told the committee that the boundary plan should leave room for the school's population to grow so the elementary doesn't become overcrowded too quickly.
But in the committee's choices of options, several schools affected by the boundary shifts would remain overcrowded dashing the opportunity for what could be their only chance at relieving overcrowding. So school officials have sent the committee back to look at options that would add more students to the new school in Mays Chapel.
"We will review the scenarios one last time to make sure they address the criteria and objectives for opening the new school and to accomplish what the committee was formed to do," Cropper said in a statement.