By Jeremy Bauerwolf, Frederick News Post
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
The public will learn in January which Frederick neighborhoods might attend a new elementary school being built in the western end of the city.
Frederick County Public Schools intends to unveil at least three choices of attendance boundaries for Butterfly Ridge Elementary School, Ray Barnes, the district’s chief operating officer, said on Monday.
The school system plans to open Butterfly Ridge by 2018 to alleviate significant overcrowding in other city schools, namely Hillcrest, Waverley and Orchard Grove elementary schools.
Though the district will accept feedback on all of the options, only one will be presented to the Frederick County Board of Education as the superintendent’s recommendation. The district hopes the board would approve a plan by June 2017 to allow a full year for bus routes and more to be developed, Barnes said.
The redistricting process can be arduous. Families often feel deep loyalty to their home schools and have many questions, Barnes said in an interview.
To that end, the school system has held a number of meetings at the schools primarily affected by the boundary changes, including one on Monday night at Tuscarora Elementary School that was sparsely attended. Fewer than 10 people braved the chill to hear a presentation on Butterfly Ridge.
Earlier meetings were more crowded, with up to 30 people, Barnes said.
At the recent round of meetings, parents and the community were presented with large maps of the city and the surrounding area on which they could create their own school attendance boundaries.
This is the first time the district has tried an interactive activity, Barnes said. It has yielded mostly written comments, but a few have delved into the nitty-gritty of shifting students around, he said.
Parents are concerned with issues such as which middle or high school their children will attend. The district first needs to establish the elementary school boundaries before seeing how they will influence the middle and high schools, he said.
At a previous meeting in late September, parents were worried that minority and low-income students, primarily at Hillcrest and Waverley, would be excluded from the new school.
Butterfly Ridge, which will accommodate 725 students, will be on Butterfly Lane opposite McCain Drive, in the current Orchard Grove attendance area.
The system has said it will seek to avoid creating pockets of poverty in the community while also following Frederick County Board of Education policy.