Last week, Redistricting and School Closure Committee facilitator David Lever began to dissect the pros and cons of a number of possibilities that the committee could recommend to the Board of Education in the fall.

While the committee did not begin to discuss comprehensive redistricting, which we have long believed is part of the long-term solution for “right-sizing” Carroll County Public Schools to ensure both educational and operational efficiency, the discussions on June 28 leave us optimistic the committee is headed in the right direction.


For one thing, we were glad that the committee dismissed the notion that nothing be done. We know how disruptive redistricting and school closures can be. The entire community saw that just a few years ago with the closures of Charles Carroll Elementary, New Windsor Middle and North Carroll High. The easy solution is to do nothing, but it is not the correct one. Years of avoidance when redistricting was discussed over the past two decades is part of the reason CCPS finds itself in the situation it is in.

Most of the options discussed Thursday centered around aging schools in Westminster, as they should. One of the biggest gripes about the last round of school closures was that the plan carried out did nothing to address the aging infrastructure at East Middle, West Middle and William Winchester Elementary — three schools that rank as high priorities on the school system’s capital project lists.

An important point discussed is that the current Board of County Commissioners expressed the desire to demolish any buildings taken offline. While that outlook could change once a new set of commissioners is seated following the election, given the difficulty in finding appropriate usage for previously closed schools doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that another empty building would do more than sit vacant.

Rather, the RSCC should focus on how to get students out of buildings that have outlasted their useful life that could then be demolished, avoiding any expensive renovations. At the same time, seek efficiencies through redistricting, but recognize that total avoidance of capital spending will be impossible.

The fact is, there is no way to address the aging infrastructure of densely packed, aging schools in Westminster without some sort of capital project, be it a new building or significant renovations of an aging school.

With that in mind, the plan that seems to make the most sense to us is shuttering East Middle, which is at the top of the capital projects list; and turning the West Middle and William Winchester Elementary campus into a large middle school with sixth-graders in Willie, and seventh and eighth grades in West. One potential benefit of separating the youngest students is potentially avoiding bullying issues that tend to be rampant in middle school years.

Executing this plan would require redistricting of elementary school students throughout Westminster. But a look at the numbers show there is capacity in surrounding schools to handle those students. It isn’t ideal, but what change is?

And, of course, there are still capital expenses to renovate William Winchester and West Middle, which are also high on the CCPS priority list. The real choice would be to weigh whether those costs would be greater than simply building a new facility that allows multiple buildings to be taken offline.