Just months after approving a high school redistricting plan, the Calvert County Board of Education is considering changes that would shift about 265 students from two crowded elementary schools.
Plum Point in Huntingtown and Mount Harmony in Owings have enrollments far in excess of their state-certified capacity. Calvert school board members are weighing whether the crowding creates an atmosphere that adversely affects student learning. Mount Harmony was built for 514 students and has 677, while Plum Point was built for 548 and has 758 , said Director of Facilities Lloyd Robertson.
Under plans being discussed by the board, about 88 students from the Harbor Greene and Victoria Station communities who attend Mount Harmony would move to Sunderland. The second option involves 107 students in the Ponds Wood Road corridor who would move to Sunderland from Plum Point. Another choice would move about 70 students along a portion of Wilson Road from Plum Point Elementary to Calvert Elementary.
Sunderland has about 60 open seats, and Calvert has about 113, Robertson said.
Last month, the school board approved new high school attendance boundaries in anticipation of the opening of Huntingtown High School in 2004. To accommodate the four high schools, the board voted to create four attendance zones, a move accompanied by little controversy.
But in the case of the elementary schools, with no new facility slated to open, several Mount Harmony parents expressed concerns about the crowding. They spoke at the board meeting earlier this month.
Board President Robert L. Gray said he had also received e-mails from Plum Point parents who had questions about the proposed changes.
Gray said enrollment growth and state-mandated all-day kindergarten are prompting the board to consider redistricting. In the long term, the board must also plan for a new elementary school that would be the county's 13th.
Current plans envision building the 13th elementary school in the central part of the county, in the Prince Frederick area. Calvert school officials continue to press the state for planning approval of the project, Robertson said.
In addition to the possible redistricting, Gray said the board is considering moving kindergarten programs to an off-site location. The board could still decide to do nothing at this time.
Gray said board members and school officials have been aware of the elementary crowding for more than a year. "We don't have to," he said of the possible shift. "It's just whether the quality of the education we can provide in the overcrowded schools is equitable for those kids."
At its meeting next Thursday, the board is to recommend a timetable on the issue, including ample time for public input, Gray said. The board is to decide in April.