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Redistricting proposal would shift 800 pupils Bulk of students would attend new middle school


About 800 Howard County elementary and middle school students would be assigned to new schools next fall if a redistricting plan presented to parents this week is approved by the school board.

The plan would affect 338 elementary school students who would be transferred to other schools and 482 middle-schoolers, who would be assigned to the new Lime Kiln Middle School, which opens next fall.

Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin presented a first draft of the redistricting plan to parents who came to meetings at Centennial and Hammond high schools last night and Wednesday night. Kalin stressed that his suggestions were not set in stone and asked parents to list their suggestions on a handout at both meetings.

"We're in the process of building this document, and you're a part of that process," Kalin said last night. "These thoughts are simply that -- thoughts."

Redistricting is necessary to accommodate growth and the opening of new schools, and Kalin noted that Howard has opened one to four schools every year since 1988. Officials predict that the school system will have 6,732 new students in the next 10 years, a 17 percent increase. Enrollment now is about 42,000.

The redistricting process is often an emotional one for neighborhoods, and Kalin acknowledged that the northeast county has seen its share of changes. Last year, the board voted to redistrict 887 elementary school students in the western and southeastern parts of the county, but no middle or high school students.

"We've had five schools open in the northeast so there's been a lot of redistricting," Kalin said. "But that's because of the rate of growth in the northeast."

Among the redistricting proposals for the 1999-2000 school year:

Move 173 students in the Nottingham Village neighborhood -- roughly bordered by Meadowridge Road and Route 100 -- from Rockburn Elementary School in Elkridge to Waterloo Elementary in Columbia.

Move 50 students in the area of Dark Hawk Circle from Waterloo Elementary to Phelps Luck Elementary, also in Columbia.

Move 115 students who live in the area of Dobbin Road and Snowden River Parkway from Waterloo Elementary to Jeffers Hill Elementary School in Columbia.

"Not only will Rockburn and Waterloo be brought to a population they can accommodate, but we're also moving kids into Columbia, which will have the capacity to serve their needs," Kalin said.

Lime Kiln Middle would open in the fall with 482 students from the zone that feeds Clarksville Middle School. That area includes the northern Fulton Elementary School line between U.S. 29 and Route 108 (including Rivers Edge from Clemens Crossing Elementary School) and both sides of Route 32 between Route 108 and Folly Quarter Road.

"The plan is to impact solely on Clarksville," Kalin said.

No redistricting would be necessary for the new Bonnie Branch Middle School next fall. That's because students from Ellicott Mills Middle School will attend Bonnie Branch for two years while Ellicott Middle goes through an extensive renovation.

Portable classrooms and a future addition to Ilchester Elementary School in Ellicott City may be enough to handle that school's growth. However, if the number of children in portables ultimately exceeds 20 percent of the student population -- the school system's ceiling -- officials may have to redistrict Ilchester as well, Kalin said.

After Kalin makes his presentation to the board in January, there will be public hearings and work sessions on the redistricting plan. Board members are scheduled to approve a final version March 25.

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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