New School Lines Being Drawn, But Parents Object To Boundaries

January 13, 1991|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

Proposed changes in school boundary lines, unveiled last week, brought frustration and disappointment from parents, primarily those with children at Guilford and Clemens Crossing elementary schools.

Up to about 1,300 elementary and middle school students could be affectedby the boundary line changes for 1991-1992 outlined at public meetings Tuesday and Wednesday by Maurice F. Kalin, associate superintendent for planning and support services.

Guilford parents who had hoped for immediate relief from overcrowding at their school found a recommendation for just one portable classroom, to be installed in September.

On the western side of Route29, students from the Hawthorn, Sebring, Owen Brown Estates and Clemens Crossing communities face transfers from Harper's Choice to WildeLake Middle School, a plan criticized by some parents for bringing more students to Wilde Lake than the school will lose to the new Mayfield Woods Middle School, which opens in September.

Kalin told parents he will consider their comments and may make changes in the redistricting proposal he is scheduled to present Jan. 24 to the school board. The board will conduct public hearings and work sessions before setting school boundary lines March 14.

At Guilford Elementary School, PTA President James Clark has been before the school board twicethis fall -- once at the October capital budget hearing and again atthe Dec. 13 board meeting -- to ask for two portable classrooms in the current school year.

The school has 501 students in space designed for 400, as reported by the Department of Planning and Support Services. Kalin lists it as 25 percent over capacity (his enrollment and capacity figures exclude kindergarten), about mid-range on a list of overcrowded schools that ranges from Dunloggin Middle, 58 percent over capacity, to Mount Hebron High School, 10 percent over.

Schools operating over capacity at first expand into what Kalin calls "found space" -- storage and custodial closets, hallways and teachers' lounges -- to accommodate additional students while holding class sizes to the average 25 students per teacher in elementary schools and theaverage 20.5 students per teacher in middle schools.

When "found space" has been exhausted, school officials usually add portable classrooms as temporary solutions until new schools are constructed.

"When we heard that the plan was to put in one (portable) for next year, it was like, whoa!" said Clark.

Vocal music classes are alreadymeeting on the school stage, five classes are housed in space meant for four, and school officials project a slight enrollment increase next year, the PTA president pointed out.

The number of students over capacity has increased in each of the last three school years, beginning with 15 students in 1987-1988.

Guilford parent Rosemary McMenamin also voiced frustration. "I was here two years ago and asked you the same question about Guilford, why we weren't getting relocatables?" she told Kalin.

Kalin's answer: the school system has only 35 portable classrooms and he recommends allocating them by what he sees as the most serious needs.

But St. John's Lane Elementary is listed as just 59 students over capacity and has two portable classrooms this school year, McMenamin said, while Guilford, with a larger number of students over capacity, has none.

Overcrowding at St. John's Lane is expected to increase, so it doesn't make sense to move portables from the school when it would be necessary to move them back in a few years, Kalin replied.

The associate superintendent agreed with parents who said his recommendation for Wilde Lake Middle Schoolbreaks up the feeder system, because the transferred students are likely to attend Atholton rather than Wilde Lake High School.

But Kalin said Wilde Lake, a settled area not generating many new students, needs transfers to keep enrollment from dropping below 400, the county minimum for a middle school.

His proposal would send about 200students from the Phelps Luck neighborhood, who now attend Wilde Lake, to Mayfield Woods Middle. To replace them, about 300 students fromthe Hawthorn, Sebring, Owen Brown Estates and Clemens Crossing neighborhoods would be transferred from Harper's Choice to Wilde Lake Middle.

Kalin told parents he preferred the 300-student transfer, but offered two alternatives. One would send only students from Beaverbrook, Hawthorn, Owen Brown Estates and Sebring to Wilde Lake. The otherwould send students from Sebring, Owen Brown Estates, and an area south of Clary's Forest off Hilltop Road to Wilde Lake.

Clemens Crossing resident David Naftaly said he wants to see the enrollment figures, which the associate superintendent promised to provide for parents after the boundary lines proposal goes to the school board Jan. 23.

Naftaly said the third option seemed most logical to him, but he wants to trace the projected enrollments and student shifts.

One woman objected that transferring Clemens Crossing students to Wilde Lake will mean "there probably won't be enough room for Clemens West togo to Wilde Lake." Kalin replied that the 120-unit development, where houses have been sold but not yet built, will generate only 20 to 25 middle school students.

NOTE: SEE ALSO SIDEBAR (Redistricting: Who it will affect, where they'll go)

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