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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are frequently asked questions about the elementary school redistricting.

  1. Why doesn't the school system fill the new school with one or two grades at a time, with the oldest children being in the second grade the first year?
    The new school is being built to relieve overcrowding at the elementary-school level. The state only funds construction of a new school once a school district has at least three-fourths of the new school capacity at elementary schools. There are a number of elementary schools exceeding state-rated capacity. The intent of opening the school is to provide relief to overcrowded schools as quickly as possible. Additionally, the cost of double busing over the four years it would take for Billingsley Elementary School to grow into a full elementary school through a phase-in would be cost prohibitive for the school system.

  2. Will the Board “grandfather” fifth graders so they can finish out their final elementary school year at their current school?
    It is unlikely the Board will grandfather fifth graders as a condition of the redistricting due to double busing costs; however, the Board has the option. Under policy 1930, the Board reserves the right to modify any proposal.

  3. What are the costs to keep fifth graders at their current school?
    Costs include purchasing additional buses to cover the double routes as well as the personnel to operate the buses and maintenance and mileage costs. In order to double bus fifth graders, the school system would need to purchase seven new buses, at an estimated cost of $132,902 and pay approximately $82,240 in mileage costs. The total cost for one year would be $217,142. There is no need for the new buses after the first year, but there are continued annual costs associated with the buses.

  4. What are the costs associated with additional bus ride times for students potentially being sent to a school further away from their home?
    Based on the alternatives, the cost is negligible and is offset by other routes that are possibly shorter.

  5. Can you give more of a heads up when redistricting is going to occur?
    Any time the school system builds a new school or renovates and expands a school, redistricting is going to occur. The elementary school redistricting was discussed during the 2014 high school redistricting process. This year, publicity for the redistricting began in the summer and has continued throughout the school year. Notification was made in the fall with the solicitation for redistricting committee members and again with a fact sheet sent home with all elementary school children. A public information and question/answer session was held in October prior to the start of redistricting meetings. The decision for the redistricting occurs one year prior to the school year in which it will take effect.

  6. Will you grant waivers or special exceptions for a child impacted by redistricting?
    Rule 5126 states the reasons a student may or may not be granted a special exception. It states: “special exceptions will not be granted for issues to large numbers of families, such as the need for a particular schedule, sibling enrollment, redistricting or typical day care issues.”

  7. Will you provide bus service for Autumn Hills students to attend C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School?
    Most likely bus service will be provided to all Autumn Hills students if they move to Barnhart, even to those children who live within a mile of the school. When bus service is offered to a particular neighborhood and travels through the portion potentially not eligible for transportation, the school system usually transports all students from that particular neighborhood. Transportation will assess the routes once the Board approves a redistricting plan.

  8. Why are you opening an elementary school when the middle schools are overcrowded?
    Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) has a five-year capital improvements program that evaluates the construction needs of the school system. As of the 2015 school year, elementary schools were 618 students over capacity. Middle schools were under-enrolled by 311 students. The plan recognizes overcrowded conditions at isolated middle schools, and future plans include the renovation and expansion of Benjamin Stoddert Middle School. Once the state and county approve plans and funding for Stoddert, the school system will begin a comprehensive redistricting process at the middle school level.

  9. What is the difference between Title I and non-Title I schools? Do the schools offer the same level of instruction and programs?
    Title I is designed to help students served by the program to achieve proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards. Title I schools are schools with percentages of low-income students of at least 40 percent. Additional federal funding is used to operate a schoolwide program to upgrade the instructional program for the whole school. There are currently seven elementary Title I schools in Charles County.

    Other benefits of a Title I designation include, but are not limited to:
      * All teachers and instructional assistants must be certified as highly qualified.
      * Schools must create a targeted family engagement plan with parent input. Parents give input on how to spend funds on parental involvement.
      * Students receive more instructional materials to use at home, such as the summer backpack program.
      * More classroom materials are purchased. For example, students do not have to share leveled readers. Everyone gets their own book.
      * Funding provides for subscriptions to web-based programs for students which are differentiated for students by ability levels (Istation, Reading A-Z, RazKids, Dreambox, Reflex, etc.). Many programs have a home component.
      * Schools must develop a comprehensive needs assessment based on the needs of all students.
      * Teachers receive more professional development. Schools must provide their teachers with quality professional development designed to improve areas identified in the needs assessment.
      * It is a requirement that Title I schools use evidence-based instructional strategies.
      * Title I schools receive additional staff such as Title I tutors and interventionists.

  10. Why is there no option for some neighborhoods — they are moved in both proposal A and proposal B?
    The redistricting committee, once chosen, is split into two independent groups to work on a proposal. Based on geographic location and distance to a school, some areas are better suited to attend a particular school providing limited options for the committee groups to select.

  11. Why was William B. Wade Elementary School not affected?
    William B. Wade Elementary School is a “walking” school, with most of its student population living one mile or less from the school. There are two areas, listed in both proposals, that are slated to move from Wade to Billingsley. Those communities are Dorchester Mews and westbound Billingsley Road to Opals Place. Students from these areas currently ride the bus to Wade.

  12. Why are teachers’ children allowed to attend the schools in the zone where a teacher works?
    As a benefit of employment, a full-time CCPS employee may request a transfer for their child to the elementary, middle or high school zoned for that parent/guardian’s current primary work location. Employees who live outside Charles County and who were hired after Jan. 1, 2013, are required to pay a portion of the tuition required for out-of-county students.

  13. Why was there no transparency in the redistricting process?
    We believe the redistricting process was transparent. There have been numerous communications about the process, committee membership was open for all to apply and there have been ample opportunities available to residents to provide input.

  14. Does my child’s middle school change if he is moved to a different elementary?
    No, the elementary school redistricting impacts only the elementary school zones. A middle school redistricting would be needed to change your child’s middle school. In rare instances, the school system places a temporary moratorium on a school, changing the attendance zone for new areas of growth in that school’s zone until a redistricting can occur. An example of a moratorium is the one placed in effect at Milton M. Somers Middle School in 2016 and changes middle school assignments for new students moving into specific areas of St. Charles, including Gleneagles South, North Villages of Wooded Glen and Villages of Piney Reach.

  15. Will waivers be considered for students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs)?
    Waivers are not considered for students with IEPs except in instances where the IEP requires special placement of a student.

  16. Why is Billingsley Elementary School so large?
    High growth in the northern portion of the county necessitates building larger elementary schools. Most of the smaller elementary schools are older facilities or those in more rural areas of the county. Billingsley is a similar size to the last two schools built, Mary B. Neal and William A. Diggs elementary schools.

  17. Why didn’t my real estate agent tell me about the possibility of redistricting when I bought my house? I bought my home in an area zoned for a particular school.
    We can’t answer for your agent; however, Charles County is a growing community, and with the exception of a few years during the economic downturn, the school system population grows each year. As long as growth continues and we are required to build or expand schools, redistricting will be necessary to manage overcrowding.
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