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Children living in the Spenceola Farms community between Bel Air and Forest Hill will not have to change elementary schools next year under the latest revisions to the Harford County Public Schools comprehensive elementary redistricting plan released late Friday afternoon.

The latest group of revisions to the controversial plan was made public in time for the regional hearing that was held Monday evening in Havre de Grace.

During the hearing, school system Chief of Administration Joe Licata said the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee, or STAC, plans to update all charts and individual attendance maps to reflect the two rounds of changes and post them to the school system’s website by the end of this week.

Licata, who chairs the panel, said a third round of changes is possible as STAC continues to meet daily.

It is not known if additional changes will be proposed or if they will be posted to the website before they are presented to the school board at its work session on redistricting next Monday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Bel Air High School auditorium. STAC is due to present the public feedback and the counter proposals on the plan to the school board at the work session and no public comment will be accepted.

To view the revised attendance area and school locator map visit the school system’s website, hcps.org and click on the Elementary Redistricting button on the left side.

As the redistricting plan continues to evolve, school officials have reiterated to parents that “the revised plan is still a proposal, and additional changes may occur before the proposed plan becomes final when the Board of Education of Harford County votes on it at the end of February.”

Spenceola switch

In an earlier round of revisions, STAC had proposed sending about half the children living in Spenceola Farms to Forest Lakes Elementary. Currently, all elementary age children living in Spenceola Farms attend Forest Hill Elementary, even though Forest Lakes is a mile closer to their community.

Friday’s revisions will keep all Spenceola Farms children at Forest Hill Elementary next year. In addition, children who live in the Bynum Ridge community, including those with addresses on Melrose Lane, will continue to attend Forest Lakes Elementary. The earlier revision had also proposed splitting Bynum Ridge children between Forest Hill and Forest Lakes elementary schools.

Parents in both communities had criticized the proposed splitting of their communities between two school attendance areas.

Other revisions

A number of the other revisions announced Friday deal with firming up the boundaries of the new Red Pump Elementary School due to open north of Bel Air this August.

For instance, children living in Watervale Farms and Grafton Ridge will attend Red Pump, as will children living in Saddleview and Marywood I, rather than Forest Lakes or, in the case of Marywood I Hickory Elementary, as the plan originally proposed.

Conversely, children living in two communities off Moore’s Mill Road, Old Fields and Stonehedge, will attend Hickory Elementary and not Red Pump. And, children living in the southwestern Bel Air communities of Fox Bow, Fairwind Farms, West Gate and Tollgate Estates will remain at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary and not move to Red Pump.

Another of Friday’s revisions involves Campus Hills Estates whose children will go to Churchville Elementary, as originally planned, and not to Prospect Mill Elementary.

Rocks Road area

The final revisions announced Friday concern the attendance areas along Route 24 north of Forest Hill.

According to the school system’s website, children living along Grier Nursery Road from Pyle Road north towards Cherry Hill Road - known as the Bus 928 issue - will attend North Harford Elementary.

Children living along Grier Nursery Road from Pyle Road sought toward Route 924 (Route 24) will attend Forest Hill Elementary, as will children living along Rocks Road (Route 24) from Grier Nursery Road to Sharon Road, with those on both sides of Sharon going to Forest Hill.

Bus 928 parents have spoken out against being redistricted out of North Harford because of the increased amount of time students will spend on a bus traveling to their new school.

Boundary exceptions

Monday’s hearing in Havre de Grace was one of two remaining opportunities for parents to provide direct feedback and alternative proposals to the comprehensive elementary redistricting plan before the plan is expected to be approved by the school board.

Several people spoke Monday about boundary exceptions to which School Board President Mark Wolkow said the board has no intention at this time to change the policy.

But with that said, there will most likely be fewer exceptions handed out because one of the limiting factors with the exceptions is if a school is at or above 95 percent of its state rated capacity.

In addition to setting the boundaries for the new Red Pump Elementary School that opens this August, the chief goal of the redistricting plan is to balance students among the elementary schools, so none has an enrollment exceeding 95 percent of its capacity.

Last hearing Feb. 14

The final regional hearing for public comment on redistricting is scheduled for Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air.

The public can continue to send comments and proposals to the school board via the elementary redistricting e-mail address, elementaryredistricting@hcps.org. The school board will accept e-mail feedback on the plan through February.

The school board is scheduled to vote on a final redistricting plan Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air. The plan will be implemented in August at the start of the 2011-12 school year. Middle and high school attendance areas will not be affected.

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