Parents Highlight Issues With Redistricting Plan

Photo |Brent Pernak, Cruising Altitude Photography LLC The Superintendent’s Recommendation for redistricting, released Sept. 11, shows 199 students currently designated Urbana High moving to Linganore High School.

Photo |Brent Pernak, Cruising Altitude Photography LLC
The Superintendent’s Recommendation for redistricting, released Sept. 11, shows 199 students currently designated Urbana High moving to Linganore High School.

At the Linganore-Oakdale-Urbana (LOU) redistricting public hearing held on Sept. 17 at Urbana High School (UHS), residents highlighted issues that they hope the Board of Education will resolve.

As one father of a Centerville Elementary student put it, “You are guarding all the doors and
you are holding all the keys. … We’re coming to you for help, but we’re fearing that all the decisions have been made and that’s scary. I see a lot of shaking hands. My hands are  shaking. We’re up at night worrying about what’s going to happen to our kids—and can we influence you just that one little bit to help our kids … to help them stay with their friends?”

Board of Education President Brad Young reassured him that public input is being considered. “We literally got this plan Sept. 11 as well and we are going through it. If you follow the redistricting, the previous one, we went through the same process and we made changes before we verified it, so we’re not here to just go through a process.”

Issues highlighted at the Sept. 17 public hearing included “Linganore Island,” or planning blocks 35 and 36 near Kemptown Elementary where the current plan predicts 10 to 14 students will be redistricted to Linganore High School (LHS); the Whiskey Creek community/planning block 56, located 2 miles from UHS but now forecast to attend LHS approximately 10 miles away; part of planning block 59 proposed to move from Green Valley Elementary to New Market Elementary; some Centerville Elementary students who live .2 miles away from the school proposed to be redistricted to Sugarloaf Elementary, which is 2 miles from their homes; and Landsdale students forecast to be redistricted to LHS, causing parents to worry especially about their student drivers on Ed McClain Road and MD 75.

Additional LOU redistricting public hearings were held Sept. 19 at LHS and Sept. 24 at Oakdale High School (OHS).

At the Sept. 11 Board of Education meeting when Dr. Terry Alban introduced her “Superintendent’s Recommendation” she noted, “This is one of the larger redistricting studies that we have done.” With two new elementary schools—Sugarloaf Elementary School (which will officially open following the rebuilding of Urbana Elementary School) and Blue Heron Elementary School in the Lake Linganore Hamptons West community—Frederick County Public Schools decided to combine the Sugarloaf Elementary and Blue Heron Elementary redistricting studies. “This keeps us from having to impact families more than once,” Dr. Alban explained, “and this is an unusual redistricting because it will be phased in.”

Sugarloaf Elementary will open in 2020-21, concurrent with the re-opening of Urbana Elementary, and Blue Heron Elementary will open in 2021-22. The study area comprises nearly half of all FCPS students, or approximately 20,000. There are 10 elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools in the study area. The redistricting process began in January 2019. The Board of Education plans to deliver its decision on Oct. 16, 2019.

In total, 1,513 elementary school students, 128 middle school students and 209 high school students are moved per the Superintendent’s Recommendation. At the high school level in the Urbana area, 199 students currently designated Urbana High are moved to Linganore High School. At the middle school level in the Urbana area, 122 students currently designated Windsor Knolls Middle School are moved to New Market Middle School. At the elementary level in the Urbana area, 299 students currently designated Centerville Elementary School are moved to Sugarloaf Elementary School, with another 162 students currently designated Centerville Elementary School moved to Urbana Elementary School; 150 students currently designated Green Valley Elementary School are moved to Twin Ridge Elementary School; and 285 students currently designated Urbana Elementary School are moved to Sugarloaf Elementary School.

Urbana area redistricting implementation will happen for the 2020-21 school year. The Superintendent’s Recommendation allows 11th and 12th grade students to remain at their current high school until graduation, but only if they have their own transportation; they will not be eligible for bus transportation.

Results of the Sept. 25 Board of Education discussion of the Superintendent’s  Recommendation were not available at press time. Visit www.fcps.org/louredistrict for more information.

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