Leonardtown, MD — The St. Mary’s County Board of Education has ratified the proposed redistricting plan for the new Capt. Walter Francis Duke Elementary School in Leonardtown. The board on Feb. 11 unanimously approved the plan that was presented at a public hearing several weeks ago that was recommended by a committee charged with the difficult task.

The redistricting plan calls for Duke Elementary to have 546 students. One of the schools involved in the redistricting, Leonardtown Elementary, would go from overcrowded to having capacity. That’s to accommodate the families moving into the new Clark’s Run subdivision, which now is at brisk building program that is expected to escalate even more in the spring.

At the public hearing only three people spoke: two parents who want their children to continue to attend Evergreen Elementary School and Dawn Simpson, the Navy’s liaison with the school system, Simpson assured those in attendance that the Navy would continue to provide family support services no matter what school the military child attends.

Currently there is a U.S. Department of Defense family counselor assigned to Evergreen E.S. Simpson said depending on the number of military children attending the various schools in the fall, that counselor could be shared among several schools, or if the population supported it, another counselor hired.

Duke Elementary School is scheduled to open Aug. 19, the first day of school for all St. Mary’s County public schools. The school board also approved the calendar for the 2015-2016 school year that retains essentially the same schedule as the current year.

Several of the board members thanked the committee and staff for the arduous task of shuffling so many students and still minimize impacts on families. The plan took cognizance of the fact that another new elementary school would be built later in the decade and tried to avoid shifting now areas that would likely feed that school. The plan also took into consideration the impacts on the middle schools that will be populated by students from Duke E.S.

Contact Dick Myers at news@thebaynet.com