Parents Ask For Explanation After Redistricting Defeat

March 17, 1991|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

Clemens Crossing parents who had worked hard to avoid having their children redistricted from Clarksville Middle School to Wilde Lake Middle saw their efforts fail Thursday night.

The school board rejected an alternative redistricting proposal submitted last month by a parent group, the Clemens Crossing Walkers, and adopted boundary lines that followed staff recommendations.

Changes in attendance areas were required to fill two new schoolsthat will open in September, Pointer's Run Elementary School at Trotter and Guilford roads, and Mayfield Woods Middle School on Red Barn Way north of Mayfield Road.

"It's not just that I'm unhappy. I don't even know why," Clemens Crossing parent Robert E. Terry said afterthe meeting.

Terry said he didn't believe board members addressedparental concerns or explained their votes.

Mayfield Woods Middlewill draw students living south of the Montgomery-Waterloo roads intersection from Ellicott Mills Middle and students living in the Phelps Luck neighborhood from Wilde Lake Middle.

Wilde Lake Middle willgain students living east of Cedar Lane and south of Little PatuxentParkway from Harper's Choice Middle and students living in Clemens Crossing from Clarksville Middle.

The parent group's alternative was to transfer Beaverbrook and Hilltop Road students from Harper's Choice to Wilde Lake, students living north of Route 108 from Clarksville to Harper's Choice and students living in MacGill's Common neighborhood from Clarksville to Oakland Mills Middle.

The proposal brought strong protests from residents of MacGill's Common. "They organizedvery quickly and very well," said board chairman Deborah D. Kendig.

Clemens Crossing parent Terry suggested a countywide workshop on redistricting. "This debate needs to go further not just because we'resuffering injustice but because the system has ground out these minor injustices year by year," he said.

In 1990, parents from four neighborhoods off Centennial Lane opposed the transfer of their children from Centennial Lane Elementary to Waverly Elementary School, whichopened in September. The board left students from one neighborhood, Font Hill Manor, at Centennial Lane Elementary, but transferred children from the other three.

Parents and students face attendance area changes at least for the next five years, as the school system continues an ambitious construction program to cope with enrollment growth. Three new schools are scheduled to open in September 1992, and twoeach in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

In Clemens Crossing, rumors circulated after the board's March 7 boundary lines work session that board members were angry at the Walkers for their alleged failure to notify residents of other neighborhoods who would have been affected by the group's alternative proposal.

Kendig made a point Thursday of thanking the Clemens Crossing parent who "slogged through the snow" Wednesday night with a list of names and dates to show that efforts had been made to notify residents of affected neighborhoods.

Vice chairman Dana F. Hanna said his quarrel was with parents from neighborhoodsother than Clemens Crossing "telling me, 'You can't do this becauseyou didn't tell us.' "

Applying the "due notice" argument would bar the board from considering any ideas other than the staff proposals, he said.

Hanna said he was afraid parents from other neighborhoods would see in his vote a victory for the "due notice" argument. Infact, he said, he voted for the staff recommendation instead of the Clemens Crossing parents' alternative because he "didn't see any benefit" in the alternative proposal.

Board member Ruth Y. Hutchinsonsaid she saw it as a fairness issue. "I felt the Clemens Crossing Walkers' (the parent group) report was well done and I spent a lot of time reading it, but when you say, 'I want something and you must exclude this and this to give me what I want,' I don't think that's fair," she said.

Board member Susan J. Cook also praised the group for its thorough research, but said, "It boiled down to that to keep one neighborhood in one school would disrupt three other neighborhoods. .. . We want to do the least amount of disruption."

The new boundary lines will shift students living in Hawthorn, Owen Brown Estates and Sebring from Harper's Choice to Wilde Lake Middle. Parents and students who testified at the boundary lines hearing Feb. 28 said they wanted to be reunited with the rest of the Clemens Crossing neighborhood attendance area. They had been split off to attend Harper's ChoiceMiddle several years earlier.

The new Pointer's Run Elementary School attendance area will shift from Clarksville Elementary students who live in the area east of Route 108 between Middle Patuxent River and Ten Oaks Road; on Route 108 between Ten Oaks and Highland roads; south of Highland Road between Mink Hollow Road and Route 108; and east of Mink Hollow Road.

Students living south of the Middle Patuxent River on Johns Hopkins, Pindell School and Sanner roads will transfer from Clemens Crossing Elementary to Pointer's Run.

Guilford Elementary parents who had lobbied for four portable classrooms for their school got three. Bollman Bridge, Dasher Green, Hammond, Laurel Woods, and Northfield elementary schools each received one portable.

Middle schools scheduled to gain a portable classroom in September are Glenwood, Owen Brown and Patapsco.

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