PTA angry that principal's name was omitted from Sandymount plaque CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

October 21, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Everyone agrees that it was a mistake to leave Principal Helen "Anita" Metz's name off the bronze plaque commemorating the people behind Carroll County's remodeled and expanded Sandymount Elementary School.

But the parent-teacher association doesn't agree with school officials who say the mistake isn't bad enough to justify spending $1,000 on a new plaque.

The Board of Education will discuss the matter Oct. 29, when members conduct a special meeting on another matter, new New Windsor Middle School construction plans.

Until the meeting, board members will probably get several letters from parents who attended a PTA meeting Monday night and became very "charged up" about the oversight, said Debra Meekins, president of the Sandymount PTA and a Finksburg mother of two.

"They have to understand, from our whole school's point of view, Mrs. Metz is the only name that most of the parents and students are familiar with," said Mrs. Meekins, who also spoke briefly to the school board at its meeting last week.

Of the four members reached yesterday, all said they were inclined to agree with the recommendation from Superintendent R. Edward Shilling not to spend $1,000 on a new plaque.

They said they might support recognizing Mrs. Metz in some other way, such as an additional plaque. Board President Cheryl A. McFalls said that the PTA might be able to raise the money to pay for a new plaque or an additional plaque to hang near the current one.

Instead of Mrs. Metz's name, the plaque lists the original chairman of the construction planning committee, former principal Dean Johnson.

When Mrs. Metz became principal in September 1990, she took over the duties Mr. Johnson had as chairman and led the school through the last two years of planning, building and equipping the new school.

She also coordinated the temporary move into portable classrooms in Westminster while the renovation was going on. The students are to move into the new building early next month.

"She's definitely the backbone of this school," Mrs. Meekins said. "I think her feelings were hurt that she put so much time into it, and then when she saw the plaque, she was not on it."

Mrs. Metz could not be reached for comment.

Vernon Smith, director of school support services, said the exclusion of Mrs. Metz's name was an oversight. No one had made a point to get her name to the company casting the plaque, he said.

However, Mrs. Meekins pointed out, someone did make sure the new school board members and county commissioners got on the plaque, and they were elected two months after Mrs. Metz became principal.

"So, basically, the people who run the school don't mean anything?" Mrs. Meekins asked.

"That's politics," said board member Joseph D. Mish Jr., who mused that "if Mrs. Metz is left off the plaque, that won't cost anyone their job."

What is more telling of Mrs. Metz's abilities than any plaque, he said, is the way the staff and parents are rallying around her.

"I think she probably ought to get the credit," he said, but added that a less expensive option might be to put up an additional plaque. Mr. Mish said he would be willing to spend a modest amount, such as $100.

Mrs. Meekins said some parents and teachers feel that would reduce Mrs. Metz to an afterthought. As for the PTA paying the cost, she feels it was the school system's mistake, and the system should correct it.

The plaques that mark new school construction are placed in the entryways and always include the county commissioners, school board, superintendent and architect.

A similar case happened at Manchester Elementary School a few years ago. Former principal Larry Tyree's name is nowhere on the plaque, even though he was principal and chaired the construction committee during the entire construction phase.

Instead, the name on the plaque is the one of the man who was principal just before Mr. Tyree -- Mr. Smith.

By the time the Manchester school was done in 1988, it had yet a third principal, Bonnie Ferrier. Her name isn't on the plaque, either.

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