Board of Education: Support Hold on Redistricting in Freedom Area – Focus instead on School Additions and Modernization

This article brought to you by Informed Carroll County.

The following are the top takeaways from the Education Facility Master Plan work session on May 31, 2023. The discussion was centered around enrollment projections, feasibility studies, Southern Area Redistricting Committee (SARC) updates and future Capital Improvement projects. 

The meeting resulted in Superintendent McCabe and the Carroll County Board of Education members voicing support for two school additions and one modernization, while putting a hold on all redistricting in the Southern region of the county until after the challenges of Blueprint were better understood.  Jonathan O’Neal, CCPS Assistant Superintendent of Operations made clear that the board would have another chance to weigh in on this decision during the CIP discussions this fall.

Enrollment Projections:

As of September 30, 2023 25,787 students will be enrolled in Carroll County Public Schools (745 more than expected from the enrollment projection) and almost equal to the peak number of students in 2008.

Most of the increase was in elementary students (approx. 400 students) and related to new families moving into the area. A 30% increase resulting from students returning from home school/private schools, however the other 70% were transferred in from other counties and attributed to the housing market. Growth was spread throughout the county, not just in the Freedom District.

2027 Elementary school enrollments are projected to be 12,742. That is 803 students higher than last year’s projections. (404 of the difference is due to higher PreK projections).

2027 Middle school enrollments are projected to be 6,505 which is 388 higher than last year’s projections.

2027 High school enrollments are projected to be 8,243 which is 503 higher than last year’s projections.

To look at facility adequacy, CCPS looks at facility usage along with the enrollment projections.

There are 9 “Inadequate (>105% of capacity)” elementary schools based on CCPS BOE policy which is 5 more than last year and do not include PreK enrollment or the PreK additions. They are Carrolltowne, Ebb Valley, Freedom, Linton Springs, Manchester, Piney Ridge, Sandymount, William Winchester and Winfield.

Three elementary schools are approaching inadequate (101%-105%) capacity. Cranberry Station, Friendship Valley and Westminster.

There are 2 inadequate middle schools (>110% of capacity). Those schools are Oklahoma Rd and Sykesville.

3 middle schools are approaching inadequate (101&-110%) capacity and are Mt. Airy, Shiloh and East Middle. Last year there was only one approaching inadequate status.

3 High schools are approaching inadequate (101%-110%) which are Century, Liberty and Manchester Valley. (Last year’s plan showed 0 high schools approaching.)

Note: These adequacy ratings are based on 10-year projections.

Feasibility studies

Freedom Elementary School Option 1: 5 classroom addition including 1 PreK

9,035 sq feet including 1 workroom, 1 resource room, a set of bathrooms, staff restrooms and mechanical and custodial closets

Brings the State rated capacity to 637 seats and the estimated cost is $5,288,000.

Playground is adjacent to this proposed building. It is unclear if the playground would be affected and they would replace the playground.

Freedom Elementary School Option 2: 9 classroom 2 story addition (includes 1 Kindergarten and 1 Pre-K classroom)

15, 780 sq feet and includes 2 workrooms, 3 resource rooms, a set of bathrooms, staff restrooms, and mechanical and custodial closets

Brings the State rated capacity 728 seats and the estimated cost is $9,476,000.

Both options assist in drop off/pick up for buses but do not include additional parking. This site is only 10 acres and even though the feasibility studies say 9 classrooms can be done, CCPS is not sure that is the best option.

According to Bill Caine: “It would be putting one of our largest elementaries on one of our smallest sites with the least amount of parking and the smallest bus loops.”

Sykeskesville Middle School Option 1:  4 classroom addition

9,120 sq ft and includes 2 workrooms, 2 resource rooms, a set of bathrooms, staff restrooms and mechanical and custodial closets

Brings the State rated capacity 906 and the estimated cost is $5,475,000

Sykesville Middle School Option 2: 10 classroom addition

22,310 sq ft and Includes 8 general classrooms, 2 science labs with prep room, 2 workrooms, 4 resource rooms, set of bathrooms, staff restrooms, mechanical and custodial closets

Brings the State rated capacity to 1061 and the estimated cost is $12,762,00

This option did bring the safety of the cafeteria into question as the principal from Sykesville Middle stated that the cafeteria and the gym would be strained with these additions.

Southern Area Redistricting Committee (SARC) Updates:

In 2022 SARC projected a surplus of 189 seats for the 2026 school year in the Freedom district schools and Parr’s Ridge, Mt Airy, Mechanicsville and Winfield.  Using the new projections, the 2027 school year will only have a surplus of  9 seats in those same schools.

After using the feasibility studies and adding 5 classrooms (smaller option) to Freedom Elementary the new projections for 2027 would be a surplus of 127 seats. Adding 9 classrooms to Freedom Elementary would result in a surplus of 212 seats. Both of these examples include the PreK additions.

Middle school SARC projections for Mt Airy, ORMS, and Sykesville Middle for 2022 showed a 90-seat deficit. Using the new projections from September 2023, there is an estimated 303 seat deficit. Adding 4 classrooms to Sykesville Middle School, the deficit changes to 203 seats and adding 10 classrooms will leave us with a 53-seat deficit.

High schools have approximately a 659 seat surpluse using the new September 2023 projections for the SARC data.

It was made clear that the BOE is not willing to do any redistricting for the foreseeable future because of the challenges of Blueprint.

Board members and Superintendent McCabe all supported moving forward with the small addition (5 classrooms) to Freedom Elementary School and the larger addition (10 classrooms) to Sykesville Middle School,  as well as a modernization of Liberty High School.  The Board of Education emails are listed below for any questions or comments.


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