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School closure appeals get date for hearings

Appellants to the closure of three county schools will have a chance to make their case before the State Board of Education later this month.

Hearings on the appeals to all three closures are scheduled for June 28, said Bill Reinhard, director of communications for the Maryland State Department of Education.

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In December, the Carroll County Board of Education voted to close three schools — Charles Carroll Elementary, New Windsor Middle and North Carroll High — at the end of the current school year to reduce the system's operating costs and account for declining enrollments.

The latest enrollment figures from Carroll County Public Schools show 25,082 students in county schools. By 2021, that number is expected to dip to below 23,000, according to enrollment projections from CCPS.

Community members filed several appeals in January, challenging the legality and necessity of the closures.

An administrative law judge, in May, recommended that motions by the Carroll school system for summary affirmance in the cases of all three schools be granted, a move that would allow the closures to stand. But appellants filed exceptions, pushing the process along to the state board.

The last day of school for students is June 16. On July 1, the school system is scheduled to hand two of the three decommissioned buildings — Charles Carroll and North Carroll — over to the county. The New Windsor Middle School building has been discussed as a possible future home for CCPS's Central Office.

While she said she could not comment on the appeals, CCPS spokeswoman Carey Gaddis said the proximity of the hearing date to the scheduled hand-over of the buildings was not changing the system's plans.

"We're proceeding as we normally would," she said.

The hearings will begin at 9 a.m. June 28 at the Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Building, at 200 W. Baltimore St. in Baltimore. All of the hearings are open to the public, Reinhard said.

410-857-3315

Twitter.com/heatherleighnor

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