Frederick County is considering a proposal to redistrict 2,500 students to respond to shifts in population, housing, and school capacity.
Frederick County is evaluating recommendations to redraw some of the County’s school districts to better reflect population growth and school capacity. In total, the redistricting project could see around 2,500 students shifting schools, impacting 12 local schools.
The suggested maps come from Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) recent Crestwood Area Redistricting Study that was prompted by an upcoming addition to Crestwood Middle School that will boost facility capacity by 300 students. Correspondingly, FCPS says, enrollments at surrounding middle schools also need to be shifted, as proposed in the revised school district maps.
According to FCPS:
The new attendance boundaries are set to go into effect at the beginning of the 2024-25 school year. This study is scheduled to be completed in September of 2023, which will allow time for implementation, preparation for staffing changes and updates to 2024-25 bus routes.
The redistricting plan, which Frederick County Schools Superintendent Cheryl Dyson presented at the May 3 meeting of the Frederick County Board of Education, would move 425 elementary school students, 1,054 middle school students, and 969 high school students.
Among particular considerations in the drafting of the new school boundaries were several factors directly related to the area’s population growth and housing, including:
- enrollment numbers;
- the number of students per planning block; and
- the current number of students living in existing and proposed non-transported areas
Housing development is challenging school capacity
According to school officials, FCPS is by far the fastest-growing public school system in Maryland. In fact, FCPS enrollment has increased by nearly 10% over the past five school years, while 18 other school systems saw decreases during the same period.
The fast-paced growth has strained the school systems’ capacity and has attracted the attention of the county government, which is investing in school construction to help address the need for greater space to serve more students. The Crestwood Middle School project and subsequent school district redistricting is just one example of county investment to do so.
The Frederick News-Post reported on the recommended plan and the area’s growth and housing circumstances fueling it:
School board members said on Wednesday that the title of the project was sort of a misnomer. The significant shifts to attendance boundaries are necessary because of rapid development and population growth in and around the city of Frederick, they said.
‘I’m not sure if we should be calling this the Crestwood Middle redistricting,”’Board President Sue Johnson said. ‘It’s more how FCPS is handling unbridled growth. … This is a massive shuffling of students.’
Elizabeth Pasierb, FCPS’ facilities planning supervisor, told board members her team has been constantly tracking the number of dwelling units in each school attendance area that had been approved, but not yet built.
In the TJ High attendance area alone, there are more than 5,000 dwelling units in the pipeline, she said. In the Spring Ridge Elementary School attendance area, there are about 3,500.
This growth is shown in a portion of the May 3 presentation below.