Redistricting, school closure committee whittles down options, begins deeper dive

Redistricting, school closure committee whittles down options, begins deeper dive
Tom Hill, the director of middle schools for CCPS, gives a tour of the West Middle School gymnasium to the Redistricting and School Closure Committee Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

With a little over a month until the Redistricting and School Closure Committee is set to present its recommendations to the Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education, the group pared down 11 possibilities to five Thursday night, none of which include a school closure and only one of which involves redistricting.

The top five possibilities are: a kindergarten through eighth grade replacement facility; a full modernization of East Middle School; limited improvements to East Middle while retaining the existing facility; comprehensive redistricting without a school closure; and accepting existing facility configuration, with improvement with individual programmatic spaces.


“Time is running down, and we want to dig into each option we’re going to present with a lot more detail,” said David Lever, the committee’s paid facilitator.

The group spent the first hour of Thursday’s meeting touring West Middle School — similar to two weeks earlier when it toured East Middle — to get an idea of what shape the building is in.

RSCC went through classrooms, space for the Learning For Independence, the gym, the boiler room and more to see how the school, which once was a junior high, was retrofitted to become a middle school with a team model.

Over the next two hours, RSCC began going through all 11 recommendations, solidifying their evaluation scores on each item before coming down to the list of five possible options.

“Now I think we’re at the next stage,” Lever said.

What comes next, he said, is at least one, possibly two more meetings. Lever said he hopes to have a draft of the final report with the possible options to the committee by next week so RSCC members can look over it and bring back thoughts for the group’s next meeting Aug. 23.

RSCC began to look into each of the five options in more detail toward the end of the meeting, understanding that some will be easier to do a cost-benefit analysis — something the school board said it wanted with each plan — than others.

With some plans, like the K-8, it’s not hard to come up with a dollars per square foot mock-up, Lever said. What will be challenging, he said, is there are some unknowns in terms of construction costs because of where the country’s economy is and the price of metal because of tariffs.

With modernizations, Lever said, they’d have to build in a higher contingency percentage because there are many more unknowns.

Comprehensive redistricting poses perhaps the biggest challenge in a cost-benefit analysis, Lever said.

“I don’t have a clue how we would put a cost on that,” he said, adding that it would be like throwing a dart into the dark, and would be irresponsible to begin throwing numbers out.