Dr. Mark Bedell, the Superintendent of Schools, has presented a comprehensive redistricting recommendation for Anne Arundel County’s school system. The plan aims to redraw school boundaries for 48 schools, establish boundaries for two new schools, and address the overcapacity issue in the county’s six northernmost clusters. The proposal comes after an extensive examination of enrollment patterns by consultant WXY and Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

The recommendation focuses on creating boundaries for Old Mill West High School and West County Elementary School while balancing enrollments across Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast, and Old Mill clusters. Dr. Bedell utilized the research conducted by WXY and considered over 2,700 comments from more than 33,000 unique visitors to the school system’s redistricting website, www.aacps.org/redistricting.

Without redistricting, 26 schools in the northern part of the county would reach or exceed 90 percent capacity. However, Dr. Bedell’s recommendation would reduce this number to 15 schools. The plan also addresses schools operating above 100 percent capacity, which would be reduced from seven to zero. Moreover, it proposes changes in middle and high school feeder patterns for 16 schools.

One of the key changes in the recommendation is the inclusion of two split articulations. MacArthur Middle School students in the Frank Hebron-Harman Elementary School and Van Bokkelen Elementary School boundary areas would attend Old Mill West High School instead of Meade High School. Additionally, Corkran Middle School students in the Oakwood Elementary School and Woodside Elementary School boundaries would attend Old Mill High School instead of Glen Burnie High School.

Dr. Bedell’s recommendation also addresses concerns raised by the public. Freetown Elementary School students would continue attending Marley Middle School and Glen Burnie High School. The plan includes a provision for “legacy students,” allowing 12th-grade students who would otherwise change schools due to redistricting to remain at their current school for their senior year, although transportation would not be provided.

The proposal predicts a need for just four additional buses, including the opening of Old Mill West High School and West County Elementary School, starting in the 2024-2025 school year. However, it avoids adding more buses on Mountain Road in Pasadena, in line with a study conducted by Anne Arundel County and the State Highway Administration, which raised concerns about safety and vehicular load.

Dr. Bedell emphasized that the redistricting process has been transparent and inclusive of public input. He acknowledged the emotional impact on families but stressed the necessity of optimizing the use of school buildings for the benefit of all students. The recommendation is not the final decision, and Dr. Bedell encourages families, students, staff, and residents to remain engaged.

The next steps in the redistricting process include a Board of Education workshop on July 26, 2023, where Dr. Bedell’s recommendation will be discussed. The Board of Education will decide and vote on proposals to take to a public hearing on August 23, 2023. Public briefings and hearings will be conducted in September and October, leading to the Board’s adoption of a Phase 1 redistricting plan on November 15, 2023. The plan will go into effect in August 2024. A Phase 2 redistricting process focusing on other clusters will begin in February 2025.

For more information on the recommendation and related documents, visit www.aacps.org/redistricting, where a portal is available for public comments until August 16, 2023. The Board of Education workshop will be streamed live at aacps.org/youtube, and public participation will be allowed during the subsequent stages of the process.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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