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The Charles County Board of Education is preparing to embark on a yearlong redistricting process.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building in La Plata to review redistricting policies, develop alternatives for redistricting of high school attendance zones, discuss how to create an attendance zone for the new St. Charles High School and reduce overcrowding in the six existing high schools, according to a news release from the school system.

In the release, Charles County Public Schools Superintendent James E. Richmond said redistricting is essential to create an attendance zone for St. Charles High School — the county’s seventh high school scheduled to open on Piney Church Road in Waldorf in 2014 — and to balance enrollments at the six other high schools.

The new school was scheduled to open in 2011, but due to economic and funding issues, construction was delayed twice.

Construction for the $64 million high school is set to begin in August.

Currently four of the six high schools are overcrowded, with North Point High School in Waldorf having the biggest crowding issue with 610 too many students. North Point had 2,210 students last year.

School board member Jennifer S. Abell said the public should keep in mind that redistricting this time around “is going to impact all high schools in the county.”

In the early stages of the redistricting process, a redistricting committee, made up of parents from schools not affected by the redistricting, central office staff and county government, is formed. School principals will be asked to submit nominations for the committee in September.

The committee works to create two redistricting alternatives over the course of several months. In March, the alternatives are presented to the board and publicized for public input.

The public has the opportunity to voice opinions on the alternatives at a public hearing, tentatively scheduled for April.

The public has a second opportunity to voice its opinion after Richmond makes his recommendation to the board. That public hearing is tentatively scheduled for May.

The agenda for the school redistricting meeting next week includes discussion on redistricting policies and suggested policy changes developed by a subcommittee made up of several school board members.

According to the release, the subcommittee met during the summer to review and develop suggested changes to policy guiding the redistricting process. The school board will review the suggestions as an information item on Aug. 6. The next step after an information item is a report item at a following meeting, followed by an action item for a vote at a third meeting.

Any rule changes are developed by the superintendent, and provide the process staff follows to implement the board’s policy.

Proposed changes to the board policies, according to the release, include the addition of a third public information session or hearing. In addition, Richmond proposed changes to the composition of the redistricting committee. A complete list of suggested changes will appear with the meeting agenda on BoardDocs on Monday.

The school board also will begin discussion on which grades are to be included in the high school when it opens.

Alternatives include opening it as a full high school with grades 9 through 12; limiting grades to 9 through 11; limiting grades to 9 through 10; or opening as a combination middle/high school with grades 7 through 9.

gphillips@somdnews.com

Action scheduled

The following is a tentative timeline for high school redistricting.

August 2012 Board reviews committee recommendations on redistricting policy; discusses, makes decisions on grades to be included in new high school

September 2012Principals submit redistricting committee nominations; board public hearing/information session on high school redistricting

October 2012Superintendent selects redistricting committee

October 2012 through January 2013

Redistricting committee meeting to develop two alternatives

February 2013Redistricting committee finalizes two alternatives

March 2013Redistricting committee’s report presented to superintendent’s operations group and the public

April 8, 2013Redistricting committee’s report presented to the school board

April 2013Public hearing on committee’s alternatives

May 2013Superintendent presents his recommendation to board; public hearing on superintendent’s recommendation

June 2013Board takes action on superintendent’s recommendation; students affected by the redistricting will change schools in August 2014

Comments and suggestions may be shared at public hearings, through email or by letter. Emails should be sent to redistrict@ccboe.com. Mail letters to Charles County Public Schools, Redistricting, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646.