Frederick County school officials, the county commissioners and Frederick city leaders want to be on the same page when they plan for new development and adequate school capacity.
So they have initiated a new tradition of meeting periodically to discuss growth and its impact on the school system.
Members of the three governing bodies met for the first time on Tuesday to discuss ways to address the growth in student population that the school system anticipates over the next decade and beyond.
With student enrollment expected to increase from 40,564 to at least 45,721 between 2012 and 2021, members of the Frederick County Board of Education asked county and city officials to work together to prepare for that growth.
The largest growth in the county is expected to occur in the New Market and Urbana areas, while the greatest influx of students into Frederick is expected to be in the northern and western parts of the city, school officials said.
“We are looking at portables, redistricting,” school board member April Miller said. “None of these are very popular. And they are not in the best interest of out kids.”
Sites for two elementary schools and one middle school would be needed to address growth in the northern and western parts of the county in the next 10 to 15 years, according to Ray Barnes, the school system’s facilities director.
One of the issues that was raised at the meeting was the upcoming city annexation of the 302.7-acre Keller farm property at the intersection of Yellow Springs Road, Rocky Springs Road and Walter Martz Road in Frederick.
School system officials said they were hoping to get a portion of the land as a future middle school site to address student growth in the area. But aldermen Shelley Aloi (R) and Karen Young (D) said the Keller property would not be a good location for a school.
The developer requesting the annexation has gone above and beyond in meeting city requests for the annexation and should not have to worry about providing a school site as well, Aloi said.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen is scheduled to discuss the Keller farm annexation on Thursday.
Aldermen suggested that the school system consider the former Sanner Farm site in the northern part of the city as a potential middle school site. Unlike Keller Farm, the city has already annexed the Sanner site.
School officials said they would have to study the Sanner site as a potential school location and try to present the results of that study when the three governing bodies meet together again in October.
At their next meeting, officials also hope to discuss future annexations, and what the school system typically looks for in future school sites.
Officials agreed that working together will help them better understand the decisions and challenges that each of them faces as they plan for the future.
“What got accomplished today is the recognition that we need to have more communication,” school board member Brad Young said. “That should have taken place years ago.”
Alderman Carol Krimm (D) said the governing bodies should continue to communicate to address the future needs of residents and students.
“It is to all of our advantage to have an excellent school system,” she said.