Randall Rice pauses from his lessons at Glen Burnie Park Elementary to wait for the windows to stop rattling.
The loud rumbling overhead from low-flying airplanes is an accepted but unwelcome way of life at the school hidden by trees at the end of Marlboro Road in Glen Burnie.
"It's loud, and if the windows are open it's even louder," said Rice, who teaches fifth grade. "You get used to it. Most of them are kids who live in the neighborhood and are used to it, but you can see the new kids kind of jump."
Rice has taught at the school for the past 17 years. His class is on the lower level of the tan brick building, but he said that offers little relief to a school where planes fly the full length of the school building.
He is not the only one tired of waiting for something to be done to quiet the school, located only about 3 miles from Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Parents of the 28-year-old school's 464 students have been patient, but maybe not for much longer. They fear cutting back on noise at their school may not be a top priority for the Maryland Aviation Administration, which operates the airport.
During a school board meeting Monday night, about 15 parents asked for help in ensuring the school is not forgotten.
"We want to make sure we are next on the list for soundproofing," Wanda Harding, vice president of the school's Parent-Teacher Organization, told board members. "We estimate that every 2 minutes a plane passes over . . .
and we lose about 45 minutes of instruction."
Kari McKittrick, a parent and substitute teacher at the school, attended the meeting after learning that Arthur Slade Regional Catholic School is slated to receive $3.5 million for soundproofing. Arthur Slade is also located near the airport, at 120 Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, about 3 miles from Glen Burnie Park.
During a Nov. 7 school board meeting, board members reviewed $2.1 million grants for sound abatement at Oakwood and Glen Burnie Park Elementary schools. But the discussion centered on he additional cost of air-conditioning the schools once windows are sealed off as part of the effort to cut back on noise.
"The board doesn't have anything to do with setting priorities (for sound abatement)," said Assistant Superintendent for Administration Bill Scott. "As a parochial school, I know the problem is similar to ours, but the Anne Arundel County board has no control over the activities for Arthur Slade.
"I wasn't sure why the parents brought the matter to the local public school board. As I see it, the board has no control over whether the state gives money to the school first or second."
Meg Andrews, manager of the MAA's homeowners assistance program said, said providing money for sound abatement programs at Arthur Slade and Glen Burnie Park are separate issues.
"We pushed Glen Burnie Park back a year ago because the (school) board said it was not ready," she said. "We have $2.1 million in our budget for Glen Burnie Park and Oakwood.
"The grant was submitted for information by the board and the soonest they would be able to act on it would be at their first meeting in December. If they approve, it will go to the Maryland Board of Public Works for approval."
Corkran Middle School, off Quarterfield Road, was the first school to receive money from the state for soundproofing. It recently reopened after undergoing extensive asbestos-removal work that was needed once the soundproofing began.
Meanwhile, as parents at Glen Burnie Park wait for work to begin, reminders of the problem are becoming more visible. A blue paper sign attached to a tree on Mayo Road reads, "Glen Burnie Park children deserve a quiet school too!"