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School board was expected to vote by end of Tuesday

By AMANDA SCOTT

Staff writer

After the timeframe to accept public comments closed Saturday, the Calvert County Board of Education was expected to make a decision regarding the redistricting of Beach Elementary School on Tuesday. The board had not made this decision by press time.

Despite four redistricting options already on the table and a near end to the public comment period, Calvert County Public Schools staff presented the board of education with four additional redistricting options, this time only affecting three elementary schools, during the board’s work session last Thursday.

“We went back, and we took a look at the numbers we had already presented and looked at the same communities we had already looked at before,” Kim Roof, director of student services, said at Thursday’s meeting. “… So, these are some of the alternatives we’ve come up with.”

The board had been discussing the issue of providing relief for Beach Elementary School, which has surpassed the state-rated capacity of 514 students, since at least 2010. In June, four of the five board members voted to delay the redistricting for a year to allow for more thoughtful planning and account for future growth, in an effort to ensure redistricting would not have to occur again in the immediate future.

The first of the new options presented to the board Thursday would move 201 students from Beach Elementary to Windy Hill Elementary, Plum Point Elementary and Calvert Elementary, resulting in 566 students at Beach.

Option B, which would move the fewest students and affect the fewest schools — the alternative the board seemed to favor — would move 117 students from Beach Elementary to Plum Point Elementary. About 615 students would remain at Beach Elementary.

Board member Joe Chenelly wondered how this option would affect kids’ rides to and from school without carrying elementary and middle students together. But supervisor of transportation Kevin Hook assured Chenelly the longest bus ride would be about 33 minutes — the average school bus ride — and that includes no middle school students. Those students who would be on the 30-minute bus ride would include those in Brookside, Summer City and south along Plum Point Road.

“That looks like this is our best option,” Eugene Karol, board president, said. “So, we could do [option] B now and think about something later.”

Board member Dawn Balinski said she agreed that option B looks good, “except for the fact that we’re leaving Beach at 120 percent over, we’re leaving Richfield Station still in their district, which is growing, so that means that there will be additional pressure within a year to two years.”

Board Vice President Kelly McConkey said it could be an option to buy time until a new school is built to adequately accommodate the students.

In the third new option, 152 students would move from Beach Elementary to Plum Point Elementary and from Plum Point Elementary to Calvert Elementary. About 615 students would remain at Beach Elementary.

The last option would move 166 students from Beach Elementary to Windy Hill Elementary and Plum Point Elementary, resulting in 566 students remaining at Beach.

“I think [option] D looks good, but we’re still looking at this,” Balinski said, noting that with any of the options, all of the affected elementary schools are going to be around 100 percent capacity.

“But this is the way of life, anyway,” Karol said. “You expect this.”

Initially, a committee of parents and community leaders proposed four plans addressing the geographical boundaries for Beach Elementary, Calvert Elementary, Plum Point Elementary, Windy Hill Elementary, Mt. Harmony Elementary, Sunderland Elementary and Huntingtown Elementary. The smallest number of students that would be affected in any of those proposed plans is 353. The largest number is 625.

To view the new redistricting options presented at the work session Thursday, go to www.boarddocs.com/mabe/calvert/Board.nsf/files/9HDUWZ6646EE/$file/scan.pdf.

ascott@somdnews.com