Community discusses redistricting, facility utilization and CCPS strategic plan at town hall meeting

Approximately 20 community members sat in the Winters Mill High School Tuesday night to discuss redistricting and facility utilization in regard to Carroll County Public Schools, and also provide feedback on the school board’s proposed strategic plan.

And while only a small group came out Tuesday to discuss the topics in person, more than 3,600 people voted in the online survey. All of the results will be compiled by Paula Singer, a moderator, and presented to the school board at a Dec. 6 school board work session.


Tuesday’s feedback on redistricting and facility utilization focused on what process should be used, the factors involved in the decision and what should be done.

Overwhelmingly, the group voted to have a committee that consists of school board members, CCPS staff and leaders, community members and other key stakeholders to help make decisions in the process moving forward. The group Tuesday night also thought the process should take more than 18 months.

In terms of key factors when making these decisions, the group thought items like student ride time, keeping students in their communities, feeder patterns, space for programs like gifted and talented and the Tech Center, and space for special education programs.

Those who attended Tuesday were also slated to discuss whether they would be open to school closures, school closures in their community, different grade configurations, though many said it would be hard to make decisions on any of the items without more information on how they would impact the students.

While much of the discussion revolved around broad topics, many of those in attendance found the conversations to be important to the process.

Muri Dueppen, of Mount Airy, said she would have liked more people to come out in public, but having both an option for in-person discussion and an online survey was important. The survey allowed the feedback to come from a wide range, and the smaller in-person discussion allowed for more dialogue and an understanding of different viewpoints, she added.

“I think it’s a good exercise and it would be nice to know how they’re going to engage us as the process continues,” she said. “I think it’s a good first step.”

Tara Battaglia, of Westminster, who is running for a seat on the Board of Education in the 2018 election, also thought the night’s discussion was an important part of the process, saying the feedback was “excellent” and “needed.”

And while not everyone agreed, it was important to hear different sides, she said.

Community involvement will be key in the future, she added.

“The public needs to keep their eyes and ears open and be involved,” Battaglia said.

These discussions and community forums come after the school faced backlash after the first round of school closures. CCPS closed North Carroll High, New Windsor Middle and Charles Carroll Elementary schools at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

And while the meeting was slated to focus on process and parameters, discussions moved into concern over the former school closure process, lack of transparency and a need to have more community involvement.


Instead, the school system brought up a plan that would close East Middle and William Winchester Elementary schools to create a K-8 facility that combines the two. That concept something the Board of County Commissioners said they would be open to considering.

During the nearly three-hour meeting, the group also weighed in on the four pillars in the school board’s strategic plan, which the BOE is in the process of updating.

The Board of Education currently has four proposed Strategic Pillars and Indicators:

  • Provide multiple pathway opportunities for student success
  • Strengthen productive family and community partnerships
  • Develop and support a successful workforce
  • Establish safe, secure, healthy and modern learning environments

Parents and community members were asked to give feedback in regard to the school system’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats.

Over the first hour and a half, community members listed off a number of positives of the school, from dedicated teachers to extracurriculars and activities like outdoor school to the school system’s Career and Technology Center.

The group also listed off weaknesses, like too much standardized testing, not enough gifted and talented resources, issues in special education including lack of training or inclusivity, budget issues, long bus rides, lack of technology use for students, diversity issues and lack of parental involvement in decision making.

Those in attendance also broke into groups to write down feedback on the four specific pillars and how the school system should measure success in regard to the pillars.

The portion dealing with the pillars was lead by Greg Bricca, who will compile the information and present it on Jan. 14 in a work session. Those who didn’t attend the meeting can send Bricca feedback via email at Responses must be in by the end of the first week of December.