Up to $4 million in U.S. grants sought BALTIMORE COUNTY

February 05, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Baltimore County school officials are hoping that special offerings at magnet schools will improve racial balances and help win $4 million in federal grant money targeted for desegregation programs.

The county school system is applying for up to $4 million in desegregation funding from the U.S. Department of Education to staff and equip four magnet high school programs in September and to plan four additional programs for the 1994-1995 school year.

"Because magnet schools have been effective in desegregation, they are eligible for this grant," says Anita Stockton, the school system's coordinator of magnet schools.

The school system must set enrollment goals for each eligible school, but these goals are "very reasonable," she says. For example, increasing white enrollment by 3 percent or 4 percent in a predominantly black school might be enough to qualify and keep the grant.

The four eligible programs are at Woodlawn High School and Milford Mill Academy, both with minority enrollments over 80 percent, and at Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson and Western School of Technology in Catonsville, which will be new institutions in existing buildings. Three other new magnet programs in eastern Baltimore County are potential sites for federal desegregation aid.

Woodlawn will host a science-intensive pre-engineering program. Milford will house an International Baccalaureate program for advanced students. Carver will specialize in the arts, while Western will specialize in environmental science.

Officials hope the special programs will attract white students to the regional Woodlawn and Milford programs, and black students to Carver and Western, which will be open to students from throughout the county and act as "vehicles to prevent minority isolation," Ms. Stockton said. The grant money can be used for textbooks, computers and other equipment, for personnel and for staff training.

Up to 10 percent of any money received may also be used for planning future magnets, she said. The four schools qualifying for planning funds are Randallstown and Lansdowne high schools; Sudbrook Middle School, which will not open until September 1994; and Cromwell Elementary School. Cromwell now houses administrative offices, but the school system hopes to renovate and reopen it for 500 students by September 1995.

The magnet schools constitute "a voluntary plan to desegregate; we are not reacting to any mandate," said school board President Rosalie Hellman.

Over the last decade, most of the county's black population has become concentrated in western and northwestern neighborhoods. As a result, 21 of the 52 schools in the county's two western districts now have minority enrollments exceeding 50 percent, compared with 11 schools in 1980.

Elsewhere in the county, there is only one school with a minority enrollment of more than 50 percent.

School Superintendent Stuart D. Berger has said that desegregation is one of the goals of the new magnet programs. The schools were also created to give greater educational choices and to encourage students' strengths and special interests.

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