- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Calvert County Board of Education voted unanimously to start the redistricting process for Beach Elementary School at its March 7 meeting.
George Leah Jr., director of school construction for Calvert County Public Schools, and Superintendent Jack Smith gave a presentation on Beach Elementary’s current enrollment status.
Beach Elementary is in the Town of Chesapeake Beach and has reached capacity, according to documents obtained from the school system.
“There is declining enrollment in the county, but in this particular spot there is growth,” Smith said.
In December, the Town of Chesapeake Beach sent a letter to CCPS stating that the town council had passed a resolution to inform the county that Beach Elementary exceeded 100 percent of its capacity and called for the BOE to redistrict the school.
In January, the BOE voted to have Smith gather information about overcrowding at the school.
“We aren’t asking you to build a new school,” Smith told the board Thursday, but Smith did suggest that the BOE start the redistricting process immediately.
“We need to have an accelerated process if want to be ready by August,” he said.
Several of the board members pointed out that Beach Elementary has surpassed current predictions of growth.
“It is striking here that in February they were at 695 [enrolled students]. We had them at that point in 2018,” said board member Dawn Balinski.
According to information provided by the board, Beach Elementary is rated to have a capacity of 514 students.
According to a document provided by the school system, during the years of 2000 to 2009, 200 more households moved to Chesapeake Beach.
Smith said he was concerned because Beach Elementary currently uses four portable classrooms.
“Virtually, we do not use portable classrooms in elementary schools in the county,” he said.
After Leah and Smith gave their presentations, the board voted to go ahead with the process. Several members of the board were quick to make a decision. Board member Joe Chenelly was one of the first to agree on starting the process.
“Unfortunately, we are just running out of space,” Chenelly said. “It was an issue I heard a lot about [when campaigning].”
The next step toward redistricting is to have a committee determine if redistricting is feasible for Beach Elementary students, Smith said.
“If we begin right away, the committee will make a recommendation by May,” he said.
The board of education can then decide to keep the plan the way it is, modify it or make its own plan, according to Smith. “They might say, ‘You know what? We are going to wait another year,’” he said.
The committee will consist of several members of the school system, members of the PTA and citizens of the community.
It will meet five times over a two- to three-month period in which it will consider several factors for redistricting. It will then present its findings to the board. Once the board approves the plan, the board will hold two public meetings, according to board of education documents. During the process, one or more schools will be chosen to take the students who will be redistricted.
“Plum Point is way below occupancy in particular,” Chenelly said.
While possible elementary schools are discussed for receiving the displaced students, there is still no guarantee the board of eduction will approve any plan, Smith said.