Shift of Pot Spring students stirs outcry School officials agree to hearing on move to Padonia school.

November 25, 1991|By Meredith Schlow | Meredith Schlow,Evening Sun Staff

A decision to move next year's Pot Spring Elementary School kindergarten class to Padonia Elementary has brought an angry response from parents and an agreement from the Baltimore County school superintendent to hold a public hearing and explore alternatives.

No date has been set, however.

About 15 parents and administrators turned out last week for a school board meeting, during which James E. Kraft, manager of planning for the school system, confirmed a staff plan to "annex" overcrowded Pot Spring, an action that normally doesn't require a hearing.

Kraft also proposed a boundary change that would move students from overcrowded Middle River Middle School to Stemmers Run Middle.

Public meetings on the proposed boundary change will take place at Middle River at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 and Jan. 6, he says.

Because annexation is not as permanent as redrawing boundary lines and frequently affects only one grade, the superintendent's staff is allowed to make the decision without holding a public hearing, a policy that prompted an outcry from parents at the meeting.

Greg Naylor, president of Pot Spring Elementary's PTA, called the decision to annex the kindergarten a "Band-Aid" that would only postpone the crisis of overcrowding that faces many county elementary schools.

Forty-seven of the county's 94 elementary schools now are over capacity. Pot Spring has an official capacity of 558 students. There are 751 students at the school this year. Four portable classrooms, each with a capacity of 24 students, are being used.

Rather than annexing Pot Spring, parents said, the county could use more portable classrooms or speed up the process of building the Jacksonville Elementary School, scheduled to open in 1994.

After listening to the angry voices, board members agreed that the superintendent's staff should meet with parents to answer questions and hear their suggestions.

While Kraft said he welcomed suggestions from parents and administrators, he said the decision was made only after looking at all the other options.

"Right now, we do not have a penny in our budget for relocatables," he said, noting that portable classrooms cost $40,000 each. The county is using 156 trailers as temporary classrooms, 48 more than last year.

Redrawing boundary lines in the area was also not feasible, he said, because of many other changes expected to take place over the next few years. They include the reopening of Lutherville Elementary School in 1993 and opening of Jacksonville in 1994 and Mays Chapel in 1995, creating space for an additional 2,000 students.

"We do not want to move a large group of people, and then come back two years later and do it again," Kraft said.

However, he did acknowledge one parent's concern that his child would spend kindergarten at Padonia, first grade at Pot Spring, and third grade at a different school, depending on where boundary lines are drawn after the new schools open.

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