Addressing Southwest area overcrowding: a proposal

By S. Dallas Dance, Superintendent

Working in collaboration with the community, Baltimore County Public Schools has been exploring ways to relieve school overcrowding and enhance school facilities in the Southwest area. On September 17, 2013, we met with Southwest area representatives to share and discuss a proposal that BCPS staff and leadership developed with county officials, the consulting firm of GWWO, and members of the community.

This proposal includes four potential projects that we intend to include for planning in the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal year 2015. With increased support from Baltimore County, we will be able to pursue all four solutions simultaneously and make great strides in creating 21st century learning environments for our students. The projects are:

  • A 700-seat replacement building for Westowne Elementary School
  • A 200-seat addition to Westchester Elementary School
  • A 700-seat building for Catonsville Elementary School (Staff is exploring the feasibility of constructing a new building on the current Catonsville Elementary site or using the Bloomsbury site/building. The feasibility study will take at least another month.)
  • A 700-seat replacement building for Relay Elementary School

SW Summary SlideOpening these new and expanded facilities will require redistricting, and we are committed to redistricting only once so as to minimize disruption to families, communities, and schools. We have engaged the firm of Cropper GIS to lead the redistricting process. The redistricting process in BCPS allows for extensive opportunities for community involvement and input.

At the September 17 meeting, I assured community members that the current Superintendent’s Rule allowing students to remain in their current school for their terminal grade, regardless of redistricting, will be extended to include Grade 4 students for elementary schools, Grade 7 students for middle schools, and Grade 11 students for high schools.

The response we have received thus far to these proposals has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are pleased that working so closely with the community throughout the process has moved us that much closer to effective answers. Many thanks to everyone throughout the community and county government who has been involved.

We look forward to meeting with the community again in October with an update on our proposal and, ultimately, to ensuring that the students in our Southwest area schools benefit from our efforts.

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5 thoughts on “Addressing Southwest area overcrowding: a proposal

  1. What is the plan for middle school? The current setup makes NO sense whatsoever — Catonsville kids go to local elementary schools and a local high school, but for middle school, half of them get shipped several miles down the road to Arbutus. Why? Because Catonsville Jr. High (a/k/a the Bloomsbury site) was shut down many years ago, and our kids were split between the two other schools serving the area (Catonsville Middle, on the far western edge of town, and Arbutus Middle, even farther away in the next town over). “Fixing” ES overcrowding in Catonsville solves nothing when the reality is that as soon as these kids hit MS, there’s no local option at all. It would make far more sense to return the Bloomsbury center to its original purpose as a jr high/MS than to turn it into space for more ES kids who will just need to be shipped out of town after 5th grade.

  2. Against extreme public opposition, the county ejected the students out of the Bloomsbury facility many years ago. Your strategy will only achieve short-term solutions to overcrowding. The state and county should construct elementary, middle, and high schools atop Spring Grove, which is already state-owned property.

  3. On pins and needles regarding redistricting. After my daughter’s father died, I was forced to move very suddenly. I am now living in a tiny apartment on Fusting Avenue all due to the fact that I need to have my 7-year-old daughter in Grade 2 at Catonsville Elementary School. I guess I would like to know about redistricting ASAP so I can have lead time to make appropriate living arrangements so that my daughter can continue to receive the excellent education that this school provides!

    I will have faith that you all will do the right thing. I know money talks. I used to easily afford living on Beaumont. But my husband’s death changed that. I humbly ask that you keep me and all others who live on the other side of Winters Avenue in your minds and hearts.

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