PUMP IT UP: Proposed Districts Revealed
The initial redistricting proposal for the county's elementary schools was released to two focus groups Monday.
Harford County Public Schools officials revealed their draft redistricting plan Monday that would relieve overcrowding at elementary schools, establish a student body for a new facility and balance enrollment in rural parts of the county.
The county schools chief of administration, Joseph Licata, presented the proposed elementary school redistricting plan at Prospect Mill Elementary School's cafeteria to parents from Churchville, Forest Hill, Forest Lakes, Fountain Green, Hickory, Prospect Mill and Youth's Benefit elementary schools. A similar meeting was held at Jarrettsville Elementary School on Monday.
Officials will meet with three other "focus groups" during the next two days before the draft is posted on the school system's website Wednesday. (www.hcps.org).
One change that generated interest at Monday's meeting involved shifting some students from Forest Lakes's eastern area into North Bend Elementary School's district.
One parent affected by this change told Licata that the drive from her Forest Lake-area house to North Bend is 30 minutes—without traffic. Licata responded by saying that the county has done all of the research it can and is open to hearing suggestions in the coming weeks.
Licata emphasized a few points to the focus group that had been known before Monday's meeting, including the county's goals and the status of Red Pump Elementary's construction. Licata assured the parents that the new school will be ready for the 2011–2012 school year and is using 85 to 95 percent capacity rates as goals across the county.
The Red Pump district was revealed to the group first. Youth's Benefit's eastern boundary runs parallel to the western border of the proposed Red Pump district. There are a limited number of parcels that extend across that border for the Red Pump district.
The southern and southeastern portion of the existing Forest Lakes Elementary School district would become part of the Red Pump district as well. Many roads west of Maryland Route 24 in Bel Air—including residents on MacPhail Road, Lakeside Terrace and Ponderosa Drive—are proposed to be part of the Red Pump District. So, too, are those on Tollgate Road from the Bel Air Bypass south to Ring Factory Road.
This would include Ridge Road, Broadview Avenue, Hillendale Road, Highland Road and Winter Park Road in the northern part of the district.
In the southern portion of the proposed district, Hanna Road, Hazel Lane, Quince Lane, Mayton Court, Hurley Court, Danville Court, Fairwind Drive, High Plains Drive, Deep Ridge Road, Fox Bow Drive, Vixon Drive, Grady Lane and all other parcels between those areas would be included in the district. There are also parcels to the west of the cluster that would be included up to the Youth's Benefit eastern border.
Other Red Pump areas would include: parts of Maryland Route 924, which Bel Air Elementary currently serves, North Avenue, James Avenue, James Street and Moore's Mill Road heading east until parcels near Old English Court.
The district would extend west and across Grafton Shop Road in some places. Timberlea Drive and Beetree Court are included in the district, but not as far north as Bear Hollow Court and Saddle Ridge Court. At the southwest portion of the proposed district, the boundary ends at Carrs Mill Road at the existing Youth's Benefit border.
Part of Hickory and Homestead Wakefield's districts would also go to Red Pump.
By Wednesday, residents will be able to find their specific district by address search on the HCPS website.
In determining the new districts, Licata listed the county's four priorities as part of his Powerpoint presentation: Construct Red Pump Elementary School, relieve Prospect Mill and Emmorton Elementary schools of overcrowding and balance the county's outer schools.
The balancing of the under-populated outer schools—Norrisville, Jarrettsville, North Bend, North Harford, Dublin and Darlington—was the catalyst for many of the new plans.
Prospect Mill's capacity of 138.5 percent is projected to drop to 91.9 percent under the new plan. Emmorton is the second-most populated school in the county by percentage (134.2 percent) and is also expected to see a significant decrease to 93.4 percent.
Among the biggest gainers, though, are Darlington (from 61.5 to 103.1 percent,) Norrisville (from 67.1 to 101.6 percent) and North Bend (from 73.3 to 100.8 percent)
Under the current elementary school borders, 12 of the county's 33 schools are at a capacity greater than 103 percent. Under the new proposal, however, Darlington has the highest projected capacity, with only four other schools (Bakersfield, Norrisville, North Bend and Red Pump) exceeding 100 percent.
Other than Bakersfield (109.5 percent), none of the schools projected to have a capacity greater than 100 percent currently exceed 73.3 percent. Red Pump, of course, will be in its first year and has no current capacity.
The addition to the North Bend district extends south below Maryland Route 23 and borders the existing Youth's Benefit district to the north. Youth's Benefit would be relieved on its western borders as students near the area of Maryland Route 152 and Maryland Route 146 are proposed to be sent to Jarrettsville, which also would cut into the southwest portion of the existing North Bend district.
The northern part of Jarrettsville's current boundary, however, would be relieved by Norrisville and North Bend. North Bend is also relieved to the northwest by Norrisville, which does not get any relief.
Another concern raised by a parent was how BRAC will impact the populations. Licata said there is no way to predict the increase in student population due to the relocation and that all the county can do at this point is aim for its 85 to 95 percent capacity target range.
Licata was also asked about portable classrooms, mainly at Youth's Benefit, and could only say that they would not be utilized at schools where the capacity was less than 100 percent.
When asked what percentage or total number of students would be moved under this proposal, Licata said the county has not made those calculations yet. He also noted the districts were drawn up "parcel by parcel" as opposed to by roads and other boundaries, and the proposed districts were not computer-generated.
He added that the county does not believe it split any neighborhoods between districts with the new proposal.
The plan is expected to be finalized at the end of Februrary after an additional public hearing and review of parent feedback.