Baltimore County School Boundary Decision Delayed: Local Officials And Parents Express Concerns


Map Option E as proposed by the Central and North East Area Boundary Study Committee. (Credit: BCPS/ Cropper GIS)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - The decision to postpone the approval of a finalized school boundary map by the Baltimore County Board of Education on Tuesday has drawn condemnation from local officials and families.

Many families in the central and northeast sections of the county remain unsure about where their children will go to middle school in the fall of 2024, leading to frustration and confusion.

At Tuesday's meeting, Christina Pumphrey, a school board member, requested a halt on the map approval. She stated that she had been contacted by parents from Halstead Academy, a Parkville-based elementary school. According to Pumphrey, these parents want their children to attend Dumbarton Middle School in Towson rather than Loch Raven Technical Academy, where the current zoning and proposed map would send most Halstead students.

The board noted that they must conduct an impact analysis before implementing any changes. The school system's spokesperson indicated that the specifics of the impact analysis still needed to be defined, and it was unclear how long the study would take.

At the meeting, board member Tiara Booker-Dwyer, expressed support for Pumphrey's proposal if it contributed to increased racial diversity.

Dumbarton Middle School's student population is predominantly white, with Black students making up 14%. On the other hand, Halstead's student population is 82% Black.

According to a 2022 study, Dumbarton Middle is operating at 96.23% capacity. Baltimore County deems any school operating above 115% as overcrowded. The proposed map has Dumbarton Middle receiving students from six elementary schools, including Hampton, Lutherville, Riderwood, Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh, and West Towson. Halstead Academy and Dumbarton Middle School enrolled 500 and 1,080 students, respectively.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks took to Facebook to express his disapproval of the delay, citing the months of committee work it took to reach a majority consensus.

"The option that was the heart of this plan was supported by 71 percent of respondents in a survey. It was the culmination of months of public meetings and tens of thousands of dollars to design a proposal that respected historical community boundaries and neighborhood diversity," Marks wrote. "Now, some want to ignore the overwhelming support of those most affected by redistricting."

Baltimore County State Delegates Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga joined Marks in condemning the halt.

"We are very disappointed that the board did not vote to approve or deny the final option, thereby elongating the process," Nawrocki said in a statement.

"Baltimore County students, parents, teachers, and community members deserve better," Szeliga added.

Maggie Litz Domanowski, another board member, also voiced her disappointment over the board's decision not to approve the initially proposed map via Facebook.

"I am not going to make excuses, but we will make it right," Domanowski wrote. "30,000-plus students and their families thought they were getting their answer last night, including me and my own BCPS students."

The next school board meeting is scheduled for July 11.

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