A community member speaks to the Redistricting and School Closure Committee during its second listening session on Thursday, May 31, 2018.
A community member speaks to the Redistricting and School Closure Committee during its second listening session on Thursday, May 31, 2018. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

Amy Beaumier, of Eldersburg, stood in the auditorium at South Carroll High School during public comment as her voice began to break with emotion.

She pleaded with the Redistricting and School Closure Committee to think of the communities as they work to make a decision about the future of Carroll County Public Schools.

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Beaumier said her family moved from Howard County after being redistricted three times, searching for an area that was more stable with a strong sense of community.

“And we found that,” she said.

Going to a high school football game on a Friday night is like something out of a TV show, she said, and hearing that could change if communities are redistricted is hard. Beaumier said she understands money and facilities are the issue. Still, she implored committee members to be mindful.

“Please keep in mind the sense of community,” she said.

North Carroll High School, K-8, feeder patterns key issues raised at first RSCC listening session

Over one hour, about a dozen community members — many of whom were from the North Carroll area — shared concerns with the committee tasked with looking at Carroll County Public Schools in an attempt to find efficiencies and best educational practice.

Nearly a dozen community members, many of whom were from the Mount Airy area, spoke Thursday night at the second listening session held by the RSCC.

For those in attendance at the meeting, keeping communities together, considering economic development and birth trends and concerns over potential overcrowding if schools are closed were key issues.

Thursday’s meeting was the second of two planned listening sessions to garner feedback from the community as RSCC works through its charge. RSCC is composed of five parents; two members of the business community; one member of county government; two CCPS employee group representatives; three members of CCPS staff; and paid facilitator David Lever, who is the former executive director of a nonpartisan state agency.

RSCC spent the last month broken into two subcommittees. They focused on educational models and grade configuration, and school boundaries and closures, Lever previously told the Times.

Stephanie Otterson, of Eldersburg, also spoke about moving to the county because of the schools, and chose the location of her house to be near Liberty High School.

“We are extremely invested in the community,” Otterson said.

Families are at stake with whatever decisions are made, she told RSCC, adding that the North Carroll area is still struggling after having North Carroll High School closed two years ago.

“I ask that you represent your fellow community members the best that you can,” she said.

Redistricting, school closure committee looks ahead at summer schedule as listening sessions approach

With three information-based meetings under its belt, the Redistricting and School Closure Committee will continue to move forward this week with a listening session to gain public feedback.

Mount Airy Mayor Patrick Rockinberg also spoke Thursday, focusing on concerns over potential overcrowding in schools in his town if a facility is closed.

The town had significant growth in the 1990s, he said, and they dealt with overcrowding then, which was a struggle.

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“After years of overcrowding,” he said, “we finally got it right in Mount Airy.”

Rockinberg said while population has decreased, the houses that were built when numbers were rising are still there, and he believes they will again be filled.

Fear over dividing communities was also something Rockinberg discussed, and said because Mount Airy doesn’t have a unifying high school, the middle and elementary schools are central points of the community.

Jennifer Weitzel, of Mount Airy, said she understood the task RSCC is dealing with is complicated.

“There’s a lot of complex pieces to the puzzle,” she said.

She said she’s concerned about her community being divided if an elementary school is closed.

While Mount Airy is an attractive location for people because it’s easily accessible to Frederick, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., Weitzel said she’s concerned that could change if there are school closures and redistricting.

“We want to keep our communities attractive and strong,” she said.

RSCC is currently scheduled to meet throughout the summer on June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26, Aug. 9, 23 and possibly 30 before the Sept. 12 Board of Education meeting, though those dates are subject to change, Lever said Thursday.

The committee now will begin nailing down potential recommendations during the summer months, Lever said. After the committee comes up with possible recommendations, they will again go back to the public for feedback, he previously told the Times.

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