Wicomico County Board of Education approves boundary adjustments

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - The Wicomico County Board of Education voted to approve Superintendent Dr. Hanlin's recommendations about boundary adjustments for Salisbury Middle and Wicomico Middle, on Tuesday.

Dr. Hanlin's recommendations would have students continue to attend the high school to which they are currently assigned, but with the relocation of Bennett Middle School to Fruitand, Hanlin said that the areas are closer to Salisbury and Wicomico Middle. Hanlin said that students in those areas would benefit from a shorter commute to their new school.

One proposed change involves the middle school for students who live in an area at the northwestern edge of the Bennett Middle attendance area. The area is on the other side of the Wicomico River from the rest of the Bennett Middle attendance area, and is much closer to Salisbury Middle. About 90 students live in this area.

The other change involves the middle school for students who live in an area at the northeastern edge of the Bennett Middle attendance area. The area is bordered on the west by Snow Hill Road, on the south by the Salisbury Bypass, and on the north by the existing Wicomico Middle attendance area boundary. About 60 students live in that area.

The proposed boundary adjustments are reportedly designed to ease overcrowding at Bennett Middle School, which is expected to rise to an enrollment well over capacity for the next several years. While Bennett Middle is near capacity now, Salisbury Middle and Wicomico Middle are reportedly both under capacity and could serve more students.

Hanlin says that the adjustments would ease the enrollment impact on Bennett Middle while also improving instruction for students by creating more balanced teacher student ratios. Due to its larger student population, Bennett Middle's student teacher ratio is much higher than the average class sizes at both Salisbury Middle and Wicomico Middle.

"These boundary changes would have a positive effect on instruction and school climate for all students," Dr. Hanlin said. The Superintendent and her team reportedly looked at many different approaches to relieving overcrowding at the middle school level, and developed these recommendations to affect the smallest possible number of students and families.

Dr. Hanlin shared her recommendations with families who would be impacted by the proposed boundary adjustments in two meetings, one at Pemberton Elementary on January 25 and the other at Prince Street Elementary on January 29. All families with students who would be impacted by the boundary adjustments under consideration were invited to the meetings by letter and phone calls.

Wicomico Schools says that Dr. Hanlin and W.C.P.S. will look at the possibility of transportation for students seeking special permission to stay at Bennett Middle School.

When asked if there is a link between the recent fight at Bennett Middle and the boundary adjustments, Director of Communications, Paul Butler says, "There has not been an increase in the number of fights or bullying incidents at BMS. I think what has happened is that the student or students of several parents have been involved in fights, and of course, it hits close to home.

Because of that, they may be saying the number of fights are getting out of hand.  BMS hasn't seen any spike in fights this year."

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