Parents say Jewish community wants their school BALTIMORE CITY

January 20, 1993|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

Some black parents at Pimlico Middle School in Northwest Baltimore yesterday accused the Jewish community of supporting the shutdown of the school in order to take over the property for its own organizations.

But the fate of the school at Northern Parkway and Park Heights Avenue remains up in the air while the school board considers whether to phase-out Pimlico and rezone students to three other middle schools.

The proposed closure is part of a controversial system-wide rezoning plan that would close nine schools and change the boundaries of 57 others.

The school closings are the subject of a public hearing next Wednesday. A final decision is not due until this spring.

Gloria Carr, a parent volunteer whose son is in the seventh grade at Pimlico, carried picket signs with about 10 other parents in front of the school yesterday, calling for it to remain open.

"We are willing to share this community, but we are not willing to give up this building," said Mrs. Carr. She said parents planned to discuss their concerns at a meeting with school Superintendent Walter G. Amprey last night.

The parents offered few specifics for their suspicion except a recent article in the Baltimore Jewish Times that discussed Pimlico as a possible site for the Torah Institute, a private Jewish school in Northeast Baltimore, along with past comments by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke suggesting that the city would be receptive to finding a site in Upper Park Heights for the institute.

The parents also note that the Jewish Community Center is located on Park Heights Avenue across the street from Pimlico Middle.

They also say that the Torah Institute has been seeking a site closer to the Upper Park Heights area than its current location in Hamilton, several miles away.

But Jewish leaders say their community has taken no position on closing Pimlico and has no plans to take over the property.

"The community has put no pressure on anyone in closing the school," said Arthur C. Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, part of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, an umbrella group. "That's for the school board and the educational leadership in the community to decide."

He said that none of the organizations affiliated with the federation are interested in acquiring the Pimlico property.

"There is no interest, absolutely none, on the part of any of these institutions to expand across the street," Mr. Abramson said.

Meanwhile, an official at the Torah Institute, an all-boys Orthodox school, said its leaders have not pressed the city for a new location.

"We're very happy where we are," said Lawrence Isbee, chairman of the 400-student school, housed at the now-closed Northern Parkway Junior High School. The debate over Pimlico "doesn't concern us at all," he said.

In the past, Mr. Schmoke has voiced support for finding the Torah Institute a location closer to the Upper Park Heights neighborhood, if one became available.

But there has been no political pressure from the Jewish community to close Pimlico Middle, said Clinton R. Coleman, spokesman for the mayor. And he stressed that the school rezoning proposal is far from final.

"You don't make a decision on the future of the school until the school is closed," said Mr. Coleman. "It is not a done deal that the school will be closed."

And Nat Harrington, spokesman for the school system, said that politics and outside pressure have played no part in the development of the rezoning plan by school staff.

"What has driven the plan is what is going to be needed to provide for students in the next 10 to 15 years in the way of space . . . and how to go about that in the most cost-efficient and cost-effective way," he said.

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