[Baltimore Sun] Baltimore County parents, school leaders agree on new zones for six elementary schools

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Parents, teachers and administrators of six Baltimore County schools selected a map of reconfigured school zones Wednesday to send to the board of education for final approval.

Committee members narrowed down over a dozen maps covering the county’s northwest area over a three-month process before settling on one Wednesday. The map reduces crowding at schools that were at overcapacity, particularly for Milbrook Elementary School, and moves students to newly created spaces at Summit Park and Bedford elementary schools’ renovated school buildings.

The Northwest area boundary study set attendance zones for Bedford, Fort Garrison, Milbrook, Scotts Branch, Summit Park and Wellwood elementary schools.

One goal of the study was to move students at Campfield Early Learning Center — a prekindergarten center with special needs programs that’s set to close in 2026 — to their home schools or nearby programs. Committee members were also tasked with increasing diversity among the schools’ student populations to reflect the region’s diversity.

The chosen map, referred to as Option A, is also the most popular among the 300 people who voted in a community survey. The school zones go into effect next academic year.

Bedford and Summit Park elementary schools’ renovations will add more than 1,200 seats to the region. Capital projects at Deer Park and Scotts Branch elementary schools are anticipated to be completed in 2026.

Among the top concern from committee members and residents who attended a public information session and participated in the survey was that some commutes would be longer.

Other participants claimed Summit Park’s strong academic standards will be negatively affected by the addition of children from overcrowded schools, the majority of whom are Black or Hispanic and from low-income families.

“Reading those comments, I’ve heard a lot of ‘What about our property value? What about our money? Why is this happening in our neighborhood?’” said Susan Shaffer, a Summit Park teacher and parent of former Summit Park students, at the boundary meeting. “What that message sends to the people coming to our school is ‘We don’t want you.’ And that’s not true.”

“The school is beautiful. The school is huge. The school is ready,” Shaffer continued. “We’re ready.”

Summit Park’s attendance zone will extend west until it hits the Western Maryland Railroad, just before Greenwood Road, picking up around 200 new students. Bedford is set to receive at least 110 students from Wellwood, which is also overcrowded.

Shaffer reassured parents that Summit Park will have more teachers if its student population increases and more services if those students need additional support.

The map will make Milbrook’s attendance zone entirely walkable and ease capacity at the overcrowded school. Milbrook’s zone currently stretches west from Baltimore City’s border and the Baltimore Beltway.

Two schools, Fort Garrison and Scotts Branch, are unaffected by the rezoned map.

The map also erased all satellite zones currently in the region, where children living in a small group of neighborhoods attend a different school than their regional attendance zone.

The Baltimore County Board of Education will consider the map at its Feb. 23 meeting before holding a vote during its March 5 meeting. The board will have a hearing on the map at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Pikesville High School.

“The committee did a great job trying to align with the suggestions while keeping the impacts at a minimum,” said Matthew Cropper, president of Cropper GIS, a contractor working with the school system to conduct the boundary studies.

“They didn’t make easy decisions but they made a good recommendation. This is a recommendation I feel is a good one for the area.”

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