By Kim Walter
Frederick County Public Schools is beginning work on a rezoning of elementary schools that will take effect in August 2014.
Al Orndorff, assistant superintendent for administration, said the rezoning has the potential to impact seven elementary school attendance zones -- Apple Pie Ridge, Armel, Evendale, Gainesboro, Greenwood Mill, Redbud Run and Stonewall.
New attendance zones are only part of the preparations under way to position the school division to offer full-day kindergarten and prepare for increased enrollment in 2014.
Work on renovations and additions is continuing at Bass-Hoover, Redbud Run, Evendale and Stonewall Elementary schools. The additions, which are scheduled to be completed by March 2014, will add 20 classrooms.
The rezoning process will begin immediately, with the division working to assemble a rezoning committee, which will include parents and school staff.
Orndorff said the committee will create rezoning options and determine a preferred option that will be presented to the Frederick County School Board for consideration through its Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Parent information meetings on the rezoning options developed by the committee are planned for 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at Apple Pie Ridge Elementary School and 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at Evendale Elementary School.
"Throughout the process, we plan to communicate with parents and staff to keep them informed of the committee's work and the recommendations being offered for the School Board's consideration," Orndorff said. The School Board may adopt one of the recommended options or it may choose to adopt a variation of one of the proposed options."
He added that prior to any action being taken by the School Board, a public hearing will be held to give citizens an opportunity to share their views on the rezoning options.
Steve Edwards, the division's coordinator of policy, records management and communications, said the system's capital improvement plan includes the addition of a 12th elementary school. He said staff felt it was best to balance elementary enrollment at existing schools in order to avoid another rezoning later.
The division also plans to add a fourth high school and open a new Frederick County Middle School in the future. While these changes would also require some rezoning, Edwards said it would be separate from the upcoming elementary rezoning.
"Our long-term goal would be clustering with the attendance zones," he said. "So all students who attend elementary school A, B, and C would go to middle school X and high school Y. That goal will be kept in mind with this process."
While he couldn't say at this point how many families and neighborhoods will be impacted by the rezoning, he did point out that the committee has agreed to a series of objectives. Typically, one would be to do their best to keep neighborhoods of students together.
The new elementary school zones should be adopted by the School Board's meeting on Jan. 21 so they can take effect in August.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org