Sudbrook has options, and none is traditional

January 27, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

The possibilities for Sudbrook Middle School have been narrowed to three, including a proposal to turn Sudbrook into an innovative public prep school for grades seven through 12.

But none of the plans from a committee studying Sudbrook's future foresees reopening the building as a traditional neighborhood middle school.

The community will get a chance to talk about all three proposals at a meeting Monday night.

The most unusual of the three proposals would reopen the Pikesville-area school with a college preparatory curriculum for grades seven to 12, according to a "private school model."

There would be a lower school for seventh and eighth graders, a preparatory school for ninth-graders and an upper school for 10th through 12th graders.

The program would be designed specifically for students in the mid-range of academic achievement who would, the committee said, benefit most from a demanding program of English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language, computer studies and the arts, plus extracurricular activities.

The future of Sudbrook, which straddles the boundary between county schools that are mostly black and those that are mostly white, has been a major source of controversy in the northwest Baltimore County communities it serves.

Closed in 1981 because of declining enrollment, Sudbrook has been used for a variety of educational and recreational projects. Most recently, it was home to Milford Mill High School, which was closed for two years for renovations. Milford reopened this fall.

Now that enrollments are increasing again and nearby Pikesville Middle School is overcrowded, the school department wants to put middle school students back into Sudbrook.

But enrollment projections show there aren't enough students to support reopening it as a traditional neighborhood school.

A committee of 24 educators and area residents who held a series of community meetings and studied other solutions came up with two additional proposals:

* Making Sudbrook a magnet middle school for students from a broad area, with comprehensive instruction in all areas and a special-interest curriculum in a few subject areas, such as foreign languages or the arts.

This program, too, would be geared toward students with mid-range academic abilities.

* Making Sudbrook a combined magnet and neighborhood middle school, with a regular curriculum for neighborhood students and a magnet program based on themes for students from outside the immediate area.

This option "would provide choice for students and parents living outside of the immediate geographic school area and it would establish a neighborhood school for families living within the Sudbrook boundaries," says the report.

The preliminary report doesn't say what specialized subjects a Sudbrook magnet would provide, but it does include a list of themes that surfaced throughout the committee's three months of research.

Among them are visual and performing arts, mathematics and science, foreign languages and a preparatory program for magnet high schools.

Committee members held five public forums and received written suggestions for the school's use, said Risa Schwartz, a member of the superintendent's staff who served on the committee.

"We are consistently hearing from the community to go back to them with our recommendations," so the committee will hold another public hearing Monday on its preliminary report, she said.

By March 1, the committee will make a final recommendation to Superintendent Stuart Berger. If that recommendation is to open a magnet school, it will include specific interest areas and program offerings, Ms. Schwartz said.

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