K-8 spared in revised school plan Rezone No. 2 debuts to mixed reviews

February 10, 1993|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

Baltimore school officials last night unveiled a revised school rezoning plan, scrapping huge chunks of a previous plan that has roiled the system for nearly two months.

The plan, presented to members of the school board at a special public meeting, would, among other things:

* Retain the city's seven popular -- and politically backed -- kindergarten-through-eighth grade programs, and expand the K-8 concept to three new schools, Violetville, Glenmount and Charles Carroll of Carrollton elementaries.

* Keep Sharp-Leadenhall School open to serve emotionally handicapped students, and close three other special-education schools only when specific schools are ready to provide "all appropriate services" for those students.

* Keep Pimlico Middle and Malcolm X Elementary open. Both had been scheduled to close.

* Delay for one year the proposed closing of Carter G. Woodson School, giving school staff time to study the effect that massive housing renovations in Cherry Hill will have on enrollments in the area.

* Close just two other schools, both of them primary schools serving younger students, Duke Ellington Primary School, which would close in September, and Luther Craven Mitchell Primary Center, which would close at a later date.

* Change the middle school assignments for dozens of elementary schools around the city, in response to complaints that students would have to travel long, hazardous distances to school.

* Retain the existing boundaries for four West Baltimore elementary schools -- Samuel F.B. Morse, Bentalou, Steuart Hill and Franklin Square. Morse and Bentalou had been paired, as had Steuart Hill and Franklin Square.

In cases where middle school and high school boundaries are due to change, students who are currently enrolled would finish out their education at those schools.

The board made no decision last night on the proposals, which incorporate many of the suggestions raised by parents and community leaders at a series of nine meetings and public hearings that concluded last Thursday.

This may not be the final revision before the board votes in April, said board President Phillip H. Farfel, who invited the public to submit written comments on the new plan.

But he said the plan, which would go into effect in September if approved, is "certainly a dramatic improvement" from the one unveiled in December. "It turns a plan that appeared to be bureaucratic into a plan that appears to be bold and innovative," Dr. Farfel said.

Initial public reaction was mixed.

City Councilman John L. Cain, D-1st, who led the charge to revamp the first plan, praised the decision to keep K-8 programs and the Sharp-Leadenhall School, and the decision to eliminate cross-town commutes for many middle schoolers.

He added, however, that "we want to make sure there aren't as many new problems created as old problems solved."

Grace Clark, president of the Citywide District Advisory Committee, called the revised plan "a vast improvement."

But Mindy Mintz, director of Students First, called the revision "a quick fix to make the people who shouted be quiet."

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