CCPS school board begins talking parameters leading up to redistricting, school closure committee's first meeting

Emily Chappell
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

The Carroll County Board of Education has begun laying out parameters for the Redistricting and School Closure Committee, which is set to meet for the first time next week.

The committee has been tasked with developing and presenting multiple options for comprehensive redistricting and school closures to the Board of Education and the superintendent.

“This is the end of the beginning of the process,” CCPS Superintendent Stephen Guthrie told the BOE.

The board discussed the importance of having the RSCC come back with multiple options, and keeping target building utilizations and special programs in mind. The board also talked about making sure whatever decisions come out of the RSCC that bus ride times, and school day start and end times, are kept in mind. The board agreed the current longest bus ride for students shouldn’t be surpassed as changes come, and that schools should start and end between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The BOE bounced around a number of possible target capacity numbers for the school system and each schooling level. Guthrie said when looking at each school, it will be important for RSSC to take into consideration what enrollment projections for different areas in the county look like.

In looking at those numbers, BOE member Marsha Herbert said the committee will also need to keep an eye what happens in terms of pre-kindergarten. The state and the Kirwin Commission, which has been tasked with examining Maryland education and education funding, has been pushing for pre-K availability for more students.

“That’s another growth piece” to be considered, Guthrie agreed.

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, who is a nonvoting ex-officio member on the school board, said while the committee is tasked with investigating possible school closures, his fellow commissioners want it known that any building that closes will likely be demolished.

“We’ve had discussions that there should be an understanding that we don’t have an alternate use for a school building,” Howard said, adding that they are not “in the market” for space.

In addition to discussing parameters, the school board also agreed that moving forward, it would be important to make a policy to look at redistricting regularly.

Herbert, who worked for the school system for approximately four decades, said CCPS tried multiple times but never moved ahead with a similar concept over the years.

“We need to make more planning for this type of thing and then you need to go back at it every five years,” she said.

With the discussion of possible redistricting, BOE student representative Matthew Johnson asked if the board wanted to tell RSCC not to redistrict students who had previously been redistricted, something Guthrie and the school board had previously talked about.

Some said it was something to keep in mind, though BOE Vice President Donna Sivigny said the board could have a transition plan for those students who had already been redistricted so the possibility of comprehensive redistricting was one the committee could look at.

But school board member Devon Rothschild somewhat disagreed, and said she would not support a plan that in any way redistricted children who were redistricted in the last round of closures.

“I feel like I need to stick to my word,” Rothschild added.

A list of complete parameters will be ready for the school board’s meeting with the RSSC. In December, the school board laid out three broad parameters — looking at redistricting, school closures and any innovation that they can come up with to improve education in the county.

RSCC is comprised of five parents; two members of the business community; one member of county government; two school system employee group representatives; three members of the CCPS staff; and a paid facilitator. The school board voted on these members at the Feb. 14 board meeting.

The committee is set to have its first meeting next week. March 7, the school board will hold two work sessions at 4 and 5 p.m. The first will be on the strategic plan and the latter will be with RSCC. The first meeting of the Redistricting and School Closure Committee will be held immediately following the second work session.

All meetings will be held at the Board of Education offices and are open to the public.

The committee’s paid facilitator, David Lever, is the former executive director of a nonpartisan state agency. Lever will be paid $150 an hour, not to exceed a total of $25,000 for the entire process.

In addition to Lever the committee is made up of the following: Robert McCarthy, a parent of an Oklahoma Road Middle School student; Rita Misra, a parent of a South Carroll High School student; Christina McGann, a parent of a Shiloh Middle School student; Vaughn Paylor, a parent of a Winters Mill High School student and a member of the county’s NAACP chapter; Rosemary Kitzinger, a parent of a Runnymede Elementary School student who was nominated by the Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee; Steven Aquino, of the Aquino Financial Group, and Jon Weetman, a local attorney, both of whom were nominated by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce; Denise Beaver, deputy director for the Carroll County Department of Economic Development; Erin Yeagley, the UniServ director for the Carroll County Education Association, and Sean McKillop, the UniServ Director for the Carroll Association of School Employees, both of whom were nominated by the associations and unions; Ray Prokop, director of the CCPS Facilities Management Department; Mike Hardesty, the director of CCPS Transportation Services; and Margaret Pfaff, the CCPS director of curriculum and instructional resources.

If you go:

WHAT: CCPS Board of Education work sessions and RSCC meeting.

WHEN: March 7 -- 4 p.m. BOE work session one Strategic Plan; 5 p.m. BOE work session with RSCC; immediately following the second session, RSCC will hold its first meeting.

WHERE: Board of Education offices, 125 N. Court St., Westminster.


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