FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - The Anne Arundel County Board of Education unanimously voted April 6 to approve the redistricting plan for three elementary schools on Fort Meade.

The plan was created by a committee of parents, community residents and school system officials to reduce overcrowding at Manor View and West Meade elementary schools and fully utilize additional classroom space at the new Pershing Hill Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in August.

"We're going to get immediate relief to our schools this fall," said Sarah Bonise, Fort Meade's school liaison officer, in regard to overcrowding at the schools. "[And] we will be able to welcome the new West Meade early education center."

The committee worked for several months to develop a plan that would alleviate overcrowding at the schools and also accommodate the influx of families expected to arrive at Fort Meade due to the Base Realignment and Closure.

The approved plan will turn West Meade Elementary School into an early education center that would serve all early childhood intervention, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students now assigned to West Meade, Manor View and Pershing Hill elementary schools, as well as those children living within the schools' boundaries.

West Meade, which will become the county's second early education center, is scheduled to open in August.

The new Pershing Hill Elementary School and Manor View Elementary School will serve students in grades one through five. Children who live in the Heritage Park North community will be redistricted from Manor View to the new Pershing Hill.

"I'm very happy. Our time was well spent," said Kimberly Walton, a member of the redistricting committee and the parent of three children who attend Fort Meade schools.

According to statistics provided by the county school system in March, Manor View has a capacity of 549 students but enrolled 608 last year. Its projected utilization rate for 2015 is 142 percent. The redistricting plan will reduce the school's utilization rate to 89 percent.

West Meade has a student capacity of 292 students but enrolled 399 last year, with a utilization rate of 131 percent. The redistricting plan will reduce the school's utilization rate to 85 percent.

Pershing Hill, on the other hand, has a student capacity of 733 students but enrolled 198 last year. Its utilization rate is 26 percent. Under the redistricting plan, the school's utilization rate will increase to 72 percent.

Meade Heights Elementary School was not included in the redistricting plan because the majority of its students are not military children. The school is being set aside for children who will live in Parkside, a new housing development scheduled for construction.

Chuck Yocum, the county school system's specialist in student demographic planning, said the county will notify families that have been redistricted, including those registering for kindergarten in the fall.

He said the school system will also begin to make upgrades to West Meade Elementary School, including SMART Boards in every classroom and the installation of age- and size-appropriate faucets and toilets, along with new playground equipment.

However, due to budget constraints, there will continue to be no air conditioning in the school's multipurpose room. Yocum said West Meade is one of 36 county schools without an air-conditioned multipurpose room. The problem will be addressed in a future capital budget for the schools.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16