CCPS school board chooses type of committee for school closure, redistricting discussions

The Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education took steps Wednesday night in the redistricting and school closure discussion.

The school board decided on a process in regard to what type of organization to eventually make recommendations, and also gave a few broad parameters that the organization will be tasked with.


After much discussion, the board agreed to move forward with a committee of about 14 individuals, that would likely include five parents, two representatives from the bargaining units, three CCPS staff members, one person from Carroll County Government staff, two members of the business community and a facilitator. They also agreed to lay out three broad parameters — looking at redistricting, school closures and any innovation that they can come up with to improve education in the county.

“[They’re] broad but it’s enough to get started,” Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said in an interview after the meeting.

School board member Marsha Herbert said she wanted a mix of community people and stakeholders, and said she didn’t want a paid consultant involved in the committee at all. Herbert said the chairperson should be someone like a retired judge or elected official.

“I think the most important person of the whole group would be the chairperson because they have to maintain control of this group,” she said.

And while board member Virginia Harrison said she thought an internal group would be best, board member Donna Sivigny said it’s clear from the survey results there’s a mistrust of staff and board members after the last round of closures, and regardless of whether board members think that’s fair or accurate, it’s something they have to deal with.

“Perception is reality. This is how the community is perceiving things,” she added.

Sivigny agreed with Herbert there should be community members involved, and said a combination of community members and internal staff would be best, although she said CCPS has to realize that will lengthen the process.

In terms of who should be on the committee, board Vice President Bob Lord said while it’s important to get a wide variety of people, there shouldn’t be any specific commissioners or Board of Education members involved. In regard to parents who are chosen, he said, it’s important to make sure they can get a large cross section of people.

While Herbert suggested a retired leader for the facilitator, BOE President Devon Rothschild pushed for an actual paid facilitator who is an outside person.

Herbert said she didn’t think the school system should spend money to pay a facilitator, though Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, said it has to be someone from outside because “everybody here has ties to something.”

During the meeting, Paula Singer, a moderator hired by CCPS to help take information from the public, presented the school board with information from the online survey, the meeting with parents and meeting with other stakeholders including employee bargaining units, the Community Advisory Council, the Teacher Advisory Council, the Carroll County Student Government Association, two members of the Board of County Commissioners and the Local Management Board.

The results were a mix of answers, though Singer said trends show the participants wanted a transparent process using a committee made up of a combination of community members, CCPS staff and an independent consultant.

The results show important factors that should be considered include students attending schools nearest to residences, growing of programs, having unique educational opportunities, considering bus ride times and making sure there is a focus on special education.


The respondents thought improving instructional programs, maintaining class size and improving efficiencies should be a primary focus.

And while actions like redistricting, closing schools and looking at grade configurations were possible supported actions, not all were as favorable as others.

A total of 3,637 people, of which about 75 percent were parents, responded to the online survey open in October. Of that group, 54 percent supported redistricting, 44 percent supported closing one or more schools, 38 percent supported closing a school in their community and 34 percent supported changing grade configuration, according to the survey results.

In an interview after the meeting, Guthrie said he plans to spend the next few months reaching out to stakeholder groups to find volunteers for the committee, as well as finding a facilitator who would be willing to do the job for a small stipend, and who isn’t affiliated with any of the groups or the county.