High school redistricting plan raises concern in Columbia, Dorsey Hall Parents of youths who would be affected plan meetings to seek alternatives

January 31, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Parents in two communities where students likely will be redistricted to Wilde Lake High School will meet to plan alternatives to present to the school board.

The proposed redistricting, presented by Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin at Thursday's board meeting, would move ninth-graders in the Columbia neighborhoods of Hobbits Glen, Longfellow and Beaverbrook to Wilde Lake in the 1994-1995 school year. Students in those neighborhoods now attend Centennial High School.

Under the proposal, students in Dorsey Hall, who also are in the Centennial district, would be redistricted to the new western high school when it opens in 1996.

Parents in both communities are unsure how to react to the proposal.

"I think we're going to have to take some time to digest this," said Dorsey Hall resident Wayne Kirwan after the meeting. "I'm not sure what the reaction is going to be," he said.

"My feeling is we really shouldn't even be leaving Centennial," said Kathleen Maizel, PTA president of the Dunloggin Middle School. "We have no relationship at all with Wilde Lake. And looking at [Mr. Kalin's] redrawn map, we will have no relationship at all with Trotter Road," the location of the new western high school.

"The bottom line is, we need a northern high school," she said. "If the [student population] explosion is occurring in the Mount Hebron area, and if they've already rezoned Waverly Woods II, there's even going to be more redistricting. And if it were to cost a little more, then it costs more. We need a high school in the north."

On Thursday the county Zoning Board approved rezoning for Waverly Woods II, a 682-acre development in Marriottsville and Woodstock that could bring as many as 215 single-family houses and more than 800 town houses and condominiums to the northern Howard site over 20 years.

Parents in the three Columbia neighborhoods slated to be redistricted to Wilde Lake plan to meet tonight at 7 at Longfellow Elementary School, 5470 Hesperus Drive in Columbia.

Parents say they are planning to testify in a public hearing on March 9 at Howard High School.

Dorsey Hall parents also are planning a meeting, but no date has been set.

Marianne Hollerbach, PTA president at Longfellow, said she is concerned the proposal to move her neighborhood out of the Centennial district may make that high school's population less racially and economically diverse. She said the plan would move a significant number of minority and less affluent students who would have attended Centennial.

"We have a strong ethnic mix and a strong economic mix," she said, and called on the school board to redistrict Centennial so the school would have more diversity.

"Redistricting is inevitable, and we're willing to accept the move," she said. "But we want to make sure there is equity in education after the move. The main hesitation that some of us have is the approach that Wilde Lake takes," she said, referring to the school's flexible scheduling and no-fail policy.

Mr. Kalin recommends moving Longfellow, Beaverbrook and Hobbits Glen because the neighborhoods had attended Wilde Lake previously, and because the neighborhoods are contiguous the Wilde Lake community.

The school system would also save about $20,000 compared with current transportation costs, because some students would able to walk to school, he said.

Although Atholton, Glenelg and Mt. Hebron high school districts also may be redistricted, only plans for Centennial and Wilde Lake were introduced last week.

Rosemary Dempsey, who lives in Beach Creek and whose children would be redistricted to Wilde Lake under the plan, said she's in a quandary.

She's not sure how her children would fare at Wilde Lake. But she's also unsure about the new western high school, which her children are likely to attend if they aren't redistricted to Wilde Lake.

"The school's not even built yet," she said. "You don't even know what staff is going to be there. I'm really torn as to what is best for my two children."

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