More than 1,000 students are slated to be redistricted to new schools next year under a plan recommended by school officials to the Howard County Board of Education.
The moves are prompted by the scheduled opening of a new elementary school in Dayton in August. School officials said they also were fulfilling a long-held promise to relieve crowding at Patapsco Middle School in Ellicott City.
Redistricting has become an almost annual event in the fast-growing county, where enrollment in public schools this fall was 48,500, compared with 38,600 a decade ago.
The district has opened several campuses in recent years, including Marriotts Ridge High last year, Bellows Spring Elementary and Folly Quarter Middle in 2003, and Reservoir High in 2002. In 2007, an elementary school in the northeast part of the county and a replacement for Bushy Park Elementary in Glenwood are scheduled to open.
"The Board of Education is almost forced into doing this every year in order to keep the schools as close to capacity as possible," board Chairman Courtney Watson said last week after school officials outlined the final plan for the board.
The plan shifts 433 students from Triadelphia Ridge and 222 students from Clarksville to the new school in Dayton, which is expected to open with 655 students, or about 83 percent of its capacity.
The newly created space in the Triadelphia Ridge and Clarksville schools will prompt further shifting of students in Ellicott City and the western region of the county. West Friendship will send 102 students to Triadelphia, and 120 will come from Manor Woods. Pointers Run will move 96 students to Clarksville.
The domino effect continues with crowded Fulton sending 138 children to Pointers Run. In an unrelated move, four students would be redistricted from Centennial Lane to Thunder Hill.
The plan puts enrollment at all but two of the affected schools under capacity. Centennial Lane would still be at 108 percent, and Pointers Run would be at 105 percent.
"I think that it's a tight plan, in the sense that it tries to address all the criteria in our policy by moving the fewest amount of children," board member Joshua M. Kaufman said.
More than 300 middle school students also are scheduled to be redistricted to help relieve long-crowded Patapsco, which would be at 118 percent of capacity without the moves.
Patapsco would send 105 students to Dunloggin, which would drop its enrollment to 102 percent of capacity.
Dunloggin, in turn, would send 104 children to Ellicott Mills and gain three students from Burleigh Manor. Sixty-three students would move from Mount View to Burleigh Manor to improve school feeds. And 51 children from Folly Quarter would attend Mount View.
School officials also presented an alternate plan for middle schools that calls for Patapsco to send 23 students to Burleigh Manor and 45 to Dunloggin.
This is the first redistricting plan to be completed using a new process that links boundary line changes to the school district's capital budget. David Drown, school planning manager, said the new method also has allowed for better planning.
"It's better than the old process," he said. "It's more focused on a long-term approach."
Watson said that it was still too early to evaluate the redistricting plan but that she thought this year's round was off to a good start.
"It's definitely a much better first draft than we've seen from the school system in previous years," she said.
Public work sessions on the redistricting plan are scheduled 7 tonight and Nov. 15, and public hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday and Nov. 17. All meetings are held at the Board of Education, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City. A copy of the plan is available online at www.hcpss.org.