Students, Parents Brace For Middle School Squeeze

Oklahoma Middle Toopen In Sept. 1996

March 25, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

ELDERSBURG — South Carroll parents have barely exhaled their sighs of relief.

Their children endured crowded elementary schools until Piney Ridge elementary opened last fall. Now, they face another three years of crowding at Sykesville Middle before Oklahoma Middle will be built.

And everywhere they look, new houses are going up.

At a joint meeting last night at Piney Ridge, Parent-Teacher Association membersfrom Freedom, Carrolltowne, Piney Ridge and Eldersburg elementaries heard that Oklahoma Middle could be ready for students by September 1996.

That won't be soon enough for Karen Warner's oldest son, now in fourth grade at Carrolltowne, although her first-grader will benefit.

Until Piney Ridge opened, she said, Carrolltowne was packed with about 1,000 students -- too many for an elementary, said Warner, PTA president at Carrolltowne.

"Now, he'll go through it all over again," she said, when he enters sixth grade at Sykesville Middle.

Warner said she doesn't care whether her children go to the new Oklahoma Middle or to Sykesville, as long as they aren't crowded.

"The middle school years are horrible," Warner said. "They're not children, they're not adults, and they're going through so many changes. I would like my children to be in a small middle school."

Vernon Smith, director of school support services, told the parents the district will place the new middle school at the top of its list of construction priorities to be submitted to the state.

He said he expects thestate to approve the $12 million project later this fall. The state pays 65 percent of school construction projects it approves in Carroll.

The state has denied the project for the past two years, claiming that enrollment projections weren't high enough. But Carroll school facilities planner Kathleen E. Sanner said the projections now should meet the state's requirements.

Last year, the enrollment projections were only four students short, but that was enough for the state to say no, Sanner said.

The state requires overcrowding at the existing schools to be projected at half the capacity of the new school by the time it opens. Because Oklahoma Middle is to be built for 800 students, education officials must show that by September 1996, there will be at least 400 students too many at the schools it will relieve.

Sanner said projections show that 311 students would come from Sykesville Middle, another 150 from Mount Airy Middle and 40 from West Middle in Westminster.

The West Middle students would be thosewho live in Presidential Park and come from Freedom Elementary.

Warner said 275 parents from Carrolltowne alone have signed form letters to be sent to the Maryland Department of Education, urging approval of the school. Other PTAs also are sending letters.

"I think thevoice of the concerned parents will be heard," Smith said. "But, in the end, the justification must be real, and it will be real."

Theschool would go behind McDonald's restaurant, just off Route 26. Thecounty owns the property.

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