Centerville Elementary Crowding May Require Redistricting

Crowded conditions at Centerville Elementary School (CES) have school officials considering many options including sending some students to another school.

CES currently operates at 141 percent at capacity, and projections have the enrollment at 986 students or 146 percent capacity for the 2011 school year.

With a budget that won’t accommodate a new elementary school in the area for another eight years, Frederick County School Board President Brad Young said several options are on the table to help alleviate the crowded conditions.

“Any time you move kids it is controversial. We don’t like to move kids from one school to another, but the county commissioners want to utilize capacity where we have it before they build new,” Young said.

Young said Frederick County Public Schools staff is working on a proposal to deal with the crowding issue. That proposal is expected this month.

“If we are going to do some shifting we will have to make that decision soon,” he said. “We always have a policy that students have to be within an hour’s bus ride, so we would not be sending kids from Urbana to Walkersville but perhaps to New Market or other areas. We will rely on the transportation and facility folk to what makes sense.”

Helping a bit is an addition to Oakdale Elementary School, which will redistrict students from Mussetter and Ijamsville roads/Holly Hills area from CES to Oakdale. That will equate to about 120 students dropping enrollment numbers at CES to 130 percent of capacity. That addition is underway and is expected to be completed in 2012.

FCPS staff presented nine options to the Board of Education in late June. While no one option seems to solve the issue, the Board has requested all those options remain on the table for discussion.

One of the options is moving Urbana Elementary School’s (UES) gifted and talented program to Lincoln Elementary School and then redistricting some students from CES to UES. The impact of that is about 75 to 125 students.

Another option is to move the CES fifth graders to the lower level of UMS. That project would take $2.6 million and two years to design and construct, according to the staff report. In addition UMS has its own crowding issues, with a projected enrollment of 127 percent of capacity in 2012.

Other redistricting options would have some CES students going to Oakdale Elementary School, Spring Ridge Elementary School, Green Valley Elementary School and Twin Ridge Elementary School.

Other options have even bigger price tags, like expanding CES at $3 million; renovating UES in 2018 to accommodate more students and redistricting some from CES to the school at a cost of $30 million; or build a new school in the Urbana area at an estimated cost of $22 million.

“Urbana is still growing. There are a lot of young children, which adds to the problem,” Young said. “Until the Villages (of Urbana) get completed it will continue to get worse. Obviously it would be great to have a new elementary school, but unfortunately the economy is not allowing that to happen any time soon.”

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