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
Opening 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.