The Linganore-Oakdale-Urbana redistricting study is chugging along. The Facilities Services Division of Frederick County Public Schools as well as the consulting firm Cropper GIS, which is heading up the study, held their third round of community meetings last week to discuss latest updates on the project and plans.
Matthew Cropper, founder and president of Cropper GIS, reviewed the redistricting options and concepts and took questions from the community in the final session Thursday at Oakdale High School.
Two different redistricting options were presented for each school level — elementary, middle and high school.
“No plan is going to be perfect. There are things we can’t control,” Cropper told parents and other community members who were in attendance.
According to the FCPS website, the purpose of the redistricting is to “establish attendance boundaries and feeder patterns for two new schools that address enrollment growth.”
The two new schools are Sugarloaf Elementary on Stone Barn Drive in Urbana and a not-yet-named elementary school in the Lake Linganore Hamptons West neighborhood, which is scheduled to open for the 2020-2021 school year.
Sugarloaf Elementary is serving as a temporary home for Urbana Elementary school students while the school is demolished and rebuilt.
Many of the options presented by Cropper focused on providing capacity relief to schools as many, elementary schools in particular, are over capacity.
In the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, many parents asked how these plans would affect high schoolers who attend Linganore, Oakdale and Urbana — especially upperclassmen who will be enrolled when the changes take effect for the 2020-2021 school year.
Beth Pasierb, facilities planning supervisor for FCPS, said no decision has been made on whether juniors and seniors of those high schools will be allowed to stay in their original school when the plan finally comes into effect.
Pasierb said FCPS has offered a “grandfather” option in the past but that the school district is still evaluating to make sure this wouldn’t lead to further crowding.
Some in attendance were unhappy with the resitricting options.
“My immediate thought is that this is a Band-Aid and that the county as a whole is way behind,” said Lauren Haddaway. “We’re going to be going through this exact same process in five, seven years because the county is not prepared. This is not a forward-thinking approach.”
Her kids attend Deer Crossing Elementary School. Haddaway’s biggest concern is that schools are going to continue to be crowded even with the redistricting because of all the new developments coming up around the county.
Deer Crossing Elementary is over capacity by 202 students, and according to next year’s enrollment projections, the school will welcome 33 more students.
“My concern is you’re going to have 30-plus [students] per teacher and how can a teacher work in that environment,” Haddaway said.
Others were concerned about communities being split up. Marcia Watson lives in Lake Linganore, one of the affected areas.
“What they’ve ended up doing is taking a small portion of the entire Lake Linganore community and possibly moving it off into an area that is not our community,” Watson said.
She is concerned for kids who will now be siphoned off to a new school and the social implications that could have.
“The great thing about living in Lake Linganore is we do have interaction across all of our villages,” Watson said. “We go to the same pools, we go to the lake, we ride our golf carts under the bridge ... and for our children who use those amenities as their social gatherings, you’re segregating a portion of the neighborhood from all the friendship potentials they have or could have.”
However, Cropper assured residents at the meeting that great effort will be made not to split up communities, and if a community has to move, “they move together.”
A survey for the residents to submit feedback on the latest draft plans will be online at the FCPS website until Friday, June 28. Afterward, the Facilities Services Division and Cropper GIS will work over the summer to finalize the options and present them to FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban.
Alban will make her final recommendation to the Board of Education on Sept. 11. The school board will then hold public discussions and hearings in September and October.