The Red Pump Elementary School, now under construction north of Bel Air, is on schedule to open at the beginning of the 2011 school year. However, the redistricting plan that will determine which students will attend the new school is two months behind schedule according to a story in Friday’s Aegis. March 1, 2011 is the deadline to complete the redistricting in order to open the new school on time. That gives the committee charged with redrawing the elementary redistricting lines just a bit more than five months to complete its work — work the district says has been complicated by an issue with the 2009 capacity figures (figures for 2010 are due out next month) and also by the Board of Education’s May 2009 decision — at the urging of the Harford County Council — to switch the location of the new school from the Campus Hills area, closer to some of the district’s most overcrowded elementary schools in eastern Bel Air, to the Red Pump location north of Bel Air. The construction of Red Pump Elementary School, which has been estimated to hold 696 students, is expected to ease overcrowding at area elementary schools including Prospect Mill, Emmorton Elementary and Forest Lakes. The decision to build the new school at the Red Pump location also helped pave the way for the long-planned and nearby Blake’s Legacy housing development to get under way. I’ll be interested to see how the math shakes out on this. I did my own figures — and I may not have the most up-to-date data — but I found that if you take just the five most overcrowded schools as of 2009 (Prospect Mill, Emmorton Elementary, Forest Lakes, Hickory and Youth’s Benefit), and add up all the extra students that would have to be moved in order to get them back to their capacity levels, you have 820 students that need a new school. That means Red Pump is already 124 slots short. And that’s not counting whatever new students are added to the area with the Blake’s Legacy development of more than 200 homes. The district wants to build the Campus Hills school soon (also expected to be built to hold 696 students) because its projections estimate the district will exceed its elementary school capacity by more than 1,000 students by 2015. Boundaries for middle and high schools will not change regardless of any changes that occur with the elementary redistricting plan, according to the Aegis story.
It’s quite complicated no matter which way you slice it. I sincerely hope the committee can pull this off smoothly. Since I can hear the pounding of the Red Pump Elementary school construction from my backyard, I’m guessing that my daughter, now a 2nd grader at Forest Lakes Elementary, will start 3rd grade at Red Pump. She’s already anxious about the possibility. She’s talking about friends and favorite teachers she’ll miss. She had been looking forward to taking violin lessons from the popular Forest Lakes music teacher who had made orchestra so much fun for her older brother. The sooner we know where the new lines will be drawn, the better able we will be to prepare our kids for the change.
Click here to read earlier BANV posts on the Red Pump Elementary School.