Parents voice opposition to school redistricting

Southern Anne Arundel County residents whose children would be affected by the redistricting of three elementary schools offered emotional testimony before the county school board Tuesday night, with most arguing that the redistricting isn't necessary.

Dozens turned out for the hearing at South River High School regarding Superintendent Kevin Maxwell's recommendation, which would shift some pupils from Central to Davidsonville and Mayo elementary schools to relieve overcrowding.

Most speakers were parents of pupils at Central Elementary. They said that two of the reasons to address Central's overcrowding — traffic problems around the school and difficulty getting all students fed on time during lunch — are unfounded. They argued that Central's parent organization and volunteer efforts would suffer if students were moved to Mayo and Davidsonville.

Some parents said that the school board should delay the decision until a comprehensive redistricting study of the southern portion of the county is conducted. And some added that the school board should instead continue focusing on Edgewater Elementary, which has been the subject of concerns about air quality.

"This is not a school with any problems," said Central Elementary parent Glen Carter. "If there were issues, if there was overcrowding, and my children were not getting an education or other issues, I would be here asking to move to Davidsonville or some other school."

Redistricting, Carter added, would be "putting the children, the families, the schools through an unnecessary change and an administrative burden, when it's not needed."

Board President Patricia Nalley said the board would continue to field comments on the matter. "Redistricting is a very passionate and difficult decision," Nalley said. "I understand parents' concerns and concerns about moving daycare, moving teachers and parent volunteers. These are real issues. The good news is parents are out concerned about their schools."

The board also heard testimony regarding a proposal by a developer to redistrict the Enclave of Reidel Pond in Crofton from Nantucket Elementary to Crofton Meadows Elementary and from Crofton Middle to Arundel Middle.

Anne Arundel schools chief operating officer Alex Szachnowicz said that the school board is slated to vote on the redistricting proposal April 18. He said policy dictates that redistricting must be resolved by April 30.

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