WINCHESTER — The Frederick County School Board on Wednesday night heard a final recommendation for new elementary school attendance zones as the division prepares to open its 12th elementary school next year.
A public hearing on the proposal will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in the library at James Wood Middle School. A board vote on the plan could follow.
The plan, which impacts Redbud Run and Stonewall elementary schools, calls for moving 445 students in kindergarten through fifth grade by the start of the 2020-21 school year, when Jordan Springs Elementary School in the Snowden Bridge neighborhood in Stephenson is scheduled to open. No middle or high school attendance zones will be affected.
Under the recommended plan, 178 students from Redbud Run and 232 students from Stonewall would be moved to Jordan Springs. Another 35 students from Stonewall may be moved to Redbud Run.
Ohio-based consulting firm Cropper GIS was hired by the school division to develop rezoning plans and facilitate community engagement during the process. It was assisted by a 22-member ad hoc committee that consisted of nine parents from Stonewall and Redbud Run, nine school staff members and four support staff that included Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent David Sovine.
Since June, Cropper GIS held two public information meetings, and the committee met four times to review seven drafts of the plan. An online survey seeking feedback on the rezoning had 136 respondents.
Matthew Cropper, president of Cropper GIS, told the School Board that most of the feedback was from the Regency Lakes community, located off Berryville Pike, regarding transportation concerns if students in that neighborhood are moved from nearby Redbud Run to Jordan Springs.
Families in Regency Lakes live fairly close to Redbud Run, Cropper said.
“The committee really deliberated about this a lot,” Cropper said, and it ultimately decided that moving the Regency Lakes community to Jordan Springs helps ease overcrowding at Redbun Run. It also helps balance demographics, particularly at a socioeconomic level, he added.
He said the plan presented to the board was unanimously approved by the committee.
Redbud Run and Stonewall are both over capacity. Redbud Run is at 112% capacity and Stonewall is at 131%.
When Jordan Springs opens, it will be at 82% capacity, Redbud Run at 91% and Stonewall at 85%.
School Board member Frank Wright said the proposed plan is probably the best it’s going to be, but concerns linger.
“What I don’t want to see happen is with the growth in Snowden Bridge, if the economy stays good, I would anticipate probably picking up 15 to 20 kids a year from that subdivision,” Wright said. “I don’t want to have to move Regency Lakes back in two to three years.”
The plan also has 100% of students from Redbud Run and Jordan Springs going to James Wood Middle School. That won’t be a change for Redbud Run, as its students are set to attend James Wood Middle School already.
Currently, 30% of Stonewall students are in the Frederick County Middle School attendance zone and 70% in the James Wood Middle School zone. Under the plan, 49% would go to Frederick County Middle School and 51% to James Wood Middle School.
Also at the meeting:
The board approved its 2021-25 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Kali Klubertanz was the only member to vote against it.
Of the CIP’s seven ranked priorities, the top priority is building a fourth high school for $99.6 million. The 231,000-square-foot school would be able to accommodate 1,250 students. The plan includes support for an expansion for up to 400 additional students.
In the 2020-2024 CIP, the fourth high school was slated to cost $122.2 million and have room for 1,725 students.
Attending Wednesday night’s meeting at the library in James Wood Middle School were School Board Chairman John Lamanna, Vice Chairman Jay Foreman and board members Kali Klubertanz, Seth Thatcher, Shontyá Washington, Frank Wright and Michael Lake. Frederick Superintendent David Sovine was also there.