Committee has one month to decide who attends new Crofton High School

Lauren Lumpkin
Contact Reporterllumpkin@capgaznews.com

The Crofton redistricting committee has until Nov. 9 to decide which existing elementary and middle schools will feed into the new high school when it opens in 2020.

The committee — tasked to recommend an attendance area for Crofton High School — has already met three times this month. The new building is expected to hold about 1,700 students.

The committee will meet three more times before it sends its final recommendation to schools Superintendent George Arlotto, said member and longtime Crofton High School advocate Jonathan Boniface.

Emotions ran high at the Tuesday night meeting as parents pleaded with the committee to keep students and neighborhoods together.

Committee members split themselves into three subgroups to tackle those issues, plus a group to manage enrollment numbers. Many schools in the Crofton area are at or nearing capacity.

Kaylee Burkett, a seventh-grade student at Crofton Middle School, said she was worried about overcrowding.

“Crofton High School is already too small, which I thought was crazy because Crofton Middle is already too crowded,” she said.

Kaylee’s mother, Jennifer Burkett, also attended the meeting. She said she wanted to come after she heard rumors her neighborhood would be redistricted. She lives in the Chapman Farms community.

“I wanted to make sure that I fully understood the process, rather than getting the information third-hand,” Burkett said.

The meeting was held at Arundel High School. The 18 committee members, spread out across three tables, pored over color-coded maps. They reviewed datasets and punched numbers into calculators.

Two representatives from each potentially affected school — Arundel and South River high schools; Arundel and Crofton middle schools; and Crofton, Crofton Meadows, Crofton Woods, Nantucket and Piney Orchard elementary schools — sit on the committee.

Members were selected by their respective school principals.

Their goal is determining which kids will go to what schools once the new high school opens.

“Everybody wants to go to the new high school. If everybody does, it’s over capacity,” said Lisa O’Hagan, a committee member who represents South River High School.

Several parents suggested the committee recommend the district build another middle school to adjust for the county’s growing population. The number of students enrolled in county public schools increases about 1 percent every year.

“The bubble expands at the middle school. There’s no room at the middle schools,” Boniface said. “Both are going to be over capacity no matter what we do.”

These concerns come as the area braces for the construction of about 2,000 new homes. The biggest development projects are happening at Two Rivers, the Enclave at Crofton, Waugh Chapel Village and River Walk, Boniface said.

Nantucket Elementary parents showed strength in numbers; about half of those in attendance represented the school.

Nantucket, because of its size and location, has a history of being redistricted out of Crofton-area schools, said PTA President Samantha Weaver.

“We’re afraid this redistricting will make us the minority again,” Weaver said. “It seems like it’s our community this keeps happening to.”

Nantucket Elementary students feed into Crofton Middle and Arundel High.

“Nantucket is a small enough area that it could be easily redistricted out,” said Mike McEwen, a PTA member and local business owner.

Parents argued that because Nantucket’s demographics were used to justify the need for Crofton High School, students at the elementary school should get to attend the new high school.

Boniface said population numbers at all area schools were used to urge the school district to build another high school.

“It’s just not right,” said Jenny Karner, a Nantucket PTA member and mother of four.

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