Boundary Study Update: Community Groups Seek To Rally Residents Around Proposed Map Options


Parents of students attending Carroll Manor Elementary meet to discuss the Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study. (Credit: Elisabeth McCollum)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - In an effort to keep communities connected, local advocacy groups are trying to get parents to rally around two of four proposed map options for the Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study.

Elisabeth McCollum, a representative of the Carroll Manor Community, says that although the boundary study process has been far from perfect, it's time for the community to coalesce around one of the choices.

According to McCollum, the Carroll Manor Community has endorsed map option A. They are joined by the Perry Hall Improvement Association (PHIA), which has recommended its members support options A or B.

“We've got to support what's available to us, it would be great if we can delay the process or go back to the drawing board based on some of our concerns, but I just don't think that's possible at this time, so we need to support Option A which maintains the most community continuity for our children,” McCollum said.

Map Option A. (Credit: Baltimore County Public Schools/ Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study)

Both PHIA and Carroll Manor prefer map option A because it keeps communities intact. As explained by Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, Options C, and D split several communities down the middle along Bel Air Road.

"There are four options. Options C and D are the most disruptive, splitting Perry Hall in half at Belair Road (C also divides Kingsville). Many neighborhoods, however, are affected in all options, especially Rossville. Participate and make your voice known," Marks wrote in a Facebook post.

Sharon Murphy, a parent of three children at both Carroll Manor Elementary and Cockeysville Middle, said that separating children from their peers is especially traumatic due to the lasting impacts of COVID-19.

"Separating our children from their friends, especially when we are still trying to repair the disruption caused by COVID-19, will have further social impacts on our kids. Middle school is hard enough as it is, and plopping them in a school outside of where they grew up, where they have no connections at such a tough stage in their development, could be even more detrimental."

Map Option C (pictured) sends students living in Perry Hall and the Carol Manor area to two different middle schools. (Credit: Baltimore County Public Schools/ Central and Northeast Area Boundary Study)

To make map option A acceptable to communities in the area, Lazaros Volikas, an area ophthalmologist representing the Carroll Manor Community, is working to refine the map. Volikas recommends making minor changes to option A, which would keep communities together and ensure that kids won't have to abandon their friends when moving on to middle school.

"it seemed like a lot of these were pretty obvious small moves that would help appease some of Map A's opponents," Volikas said. "Maps C and D are moving around like 1000s of kids. That seems like overkill for what they're trying to achieve in this study."

Advocates for map options C and D praise how these choices proportionally distribute children to maintain lower overall school capacity. Several of the county's elementary schools are at or above maximum capacity. According to documents published by BCPS contractor Cropper GIS, options C and D would keep all schools in the area within 3% of the district average of 87% capacity.

For some parents, dealing with overcrowding may be more important than maintaining community continuity. Many of the public comments on BCPS's Boundary Study website express a desire to move students around so that all schools can be below capacity.

A. Remeto, one of the commenters, said that the future benefits of lower capacity outweigh the potential issues created by moving thousands of students.

"While Options 6(C) and 7(D) move the highest number of students now, it would mean fewer boundary disruptions in the future."

To facilitate more public participation in the Boundary Study, BCPS has created a survey that asks respondents which map options they prefer.

The survey will be open to the public through Sunday, March 19.

You can find more information about the central and Northeast Area Boundary Study here.

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