Carter takes on school crowding Superintendent may recommend redistricting

December 02, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County schools are crowded, many bursting at the seams. That, no one disputes.

But the best way to alleviate overcrowding is a matter of opinion.

Today, school Superintendent C. Berry Carter II is expected to make his recommendation for solving the problem by redrawing the attendance boundaries of three county high schools and their feeder systems.

But others have different ideas.

"Build a new school," a parent shouted at one community meeting.

Both parents and school officials want more schools, but state money for school construction decreases each year.

"We need money for additional relocatables," school officials tell County Council members, as enrollment climbs and space in classrooms decreases.

Relocatables, or portable classrooms, are supposed to provide only temporary relief.

Many people complain that schools are beginning to look like trailer parks, as 10 or more relocatables become permanent fixtures on school grounds.

When there's no money to build new schools or add on to existing ones, and when portable classrooms no longer provide relief, school systems turn to redistricting.

The Board of Education is considering realigning school attendance boundaries in Northeast, Annapolis and the Meade area.

But redistricting does not go over well with parents.

As Mr. Carter said earlier this year, redistricting proposals have led to community protests as stormy as if "we were asking these kids to go to school in Siberia."

This school year has been no different.

The board will have public hearings during the coming months, with a final decision on redistricting to be made in April.

Also at today's meeting, set for 9 a.m. at its headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis, the board is to take action on a proposal to shorten and make more efficient its twice-monthly meetings.

Board members and parents have complained about the structure and length of the meetings, many of which have run into the morning hours. The board is considering:

* Limiting the number of agenda items.

* Scheduling controversial items, for which large crowds are expected, at day meetings.

* Holding executive sessions, from which the public is excluded, before board meetings, during lunch breaks or after meetings.

* Using a timer to cut off individual and group testimony.

* Encouraging audience members to show their support by standing instead of giving repetitive testimony.

* Encouraging board members to limit their comments to questions rather than speeches.

* Concluding night meetings no later than 11 p.m. and day meetings no later than 5 p.m., unless four members of the board vote to continue.

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