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Like other parents, John Bowers vented his concerns about proposed redistricting plans for the new Friendship Valley Elementary School toeducators at a public hearing last month.

He figured he had done what he could to persuade educators to allow his first-grade daughterto continue to attend Westminster Elementary.

"I had no idea how seriously they take public comment," Bowers said.

Bowers was surprised to learn yesterday that the school staff recommended a redistricting proposal that would allow children in theFurnace Hills development to continue attending Westminster Elementary.

"I'm pleased to hear the staff took that into consideration," Bowers said. "I hope that the school board is open to that suggestion."

The five-member board will receive the staff's recommendation today. They will not vote on the plan until after a final public hearing next month.

The recommendation, known as Option D, would reassign about 545 students from three Westminster elementaries to Friendship Valley in September. Students would not be transferred from one existing school to another existing school under the plan.

In addition, children who live in the Furnace Hills development off Route 31 would continue to attend Westminster Elementary.

Under one of the three initial options before the board, children living in Furnace Hills would have been moved across town to Friendship Valley, even though Westminster Elementary is nearby.

"It was important for us that our daughter stay in the same school," Bowers said. "I realize some people win and some people lose in these situations."

Vernon F. Smith Jr., director of school support services, said the staff had been considering leaving the Furnace Hills development in the Westminster Elementary attendance area even before Bowers brought it up at the hearing.

The staff's recommendation, which modified a plan known as Option C, came after four hearings last month at each of the schools that stood to be affected by redistricting. The other Westminster schools were Robert Moton and William Winchester elementaries. Freedom Elementary in Sykesville would have been affected under just one of the initial options.

Students who live in the Presidential Park development in South Carroll and attend Freedom Elementary School would not be affected under the recommended redistricting plan.

Parents there had objected to having their children transferred several miles to the new Westminster school.

Redrawing boundary lines, school officials said, is necessary to balance enrollment between the new school, which is on Gist Road off Kate Wagner Road, and the other Westminster grade schools.

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