School board to vote on proposed redistricting

By Abbey Bailey

Next year, Hambright Elementary, Eshleman Elementary, Martic Elementary, Pequea Elementary and both middle schools could experience a shift in class sizes in the 2014-15 school year due to the redistricting and expansion of Hambright Elementary School. The school board is scheduled to vote on the proposed layout tonight. A total of about 60 children could be affected by this shift in district borders.

Penn Manor Superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter explained that the redistricting project is not a full-scale ordeal. It has been enacted to help balance class sizes at both Eshleman and Hambright Elementary schools, as well as at the middle school level.

“We initially considered moving all of Georgetown Hills to Hambright,” said Dr. Leichliter. “However, that would have required that add teachers at Hambright. … Therefore, that plan would have cost more money. We opted to recommend that we move 21 students from Eshleman to Hambright. This will alleviate some larger class sizes at Eshleman.”

Elementary class sizes are the main focus of the redistricting proposal. Under this plan, Eshleman Elementary would lose around 21 students to Hambright Elementary, and Pequea Elementary would lose about 14 kids to Martic Elementary. These changes in the elementary level would not impact current fifth grade students, who would be allowed to stay at their current elementary school to finish out their sixth grade year next school year.

The neighborhoods that could be affected by the change in district borders at the elementary levels are Georgetown Hills and Springdale Farms in the Manor Middle School area and Lakewood Estates in the Marticville Middle School area. Crossgates, which is currently a swing area for Eshleman Elementary and Conestoga Elementary students would become a swing area for Conestoga Elementary and Pequea Elementary students. At the middle school level, Wood’s Edge and Parkfield will alter the class sizes at both Marticville and Manor Middle School.

Boundary changes around the Marticville Middle School area will result in half of the sixth graders at Letort going to Marticville Middle School, and the other half attending Manor Middle School for the 2014-15 school year. But current seventh grade students at both middle schools will be permitted to stay at their current middle school to finish out eighth grade.

The district has also hypothesized that if growth continues as is within the next three year, the school board will revisit the idea of moving all Letort Elementary students to Martic Elementary.

About 30 people attended a public meeting held on December 16, 2013 to inform the public of the possible changes to the school district boundaries. The meeting was advertised on Twitter, Penn Manor’s blogs and websites and in the Lancaster newspaper. Certain families impacted by these changes were also informed by letter of this meeting and encouraged to attend.

“Out of the people that attended the meeting and spoke, most did not like the idea of changing their development to a new school. Two people spoke who said they do not have a strong feeling either way but understand the district’s reason for recommending the change,” said Dr. Leichliter. “I’ve also heard from some families who also said they understand that there is currently an imbalance and this is the most cost effective way to handle balancing class sizes between Manor and Marticville.”

The final verdict for Penn Manor’s proposed redistricting plans will be determined at a school board meeting held tonight.