Most parents at meeting favor redistricting plan to ease school crowding

February 21, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Fountain Green Elementary's opening in the fall will ease crowding at Prospect Mill Elementary and, to a lesser extent, two other elementary schools.

Most of the 20 parents who attended a meeting Tuesday at Prospect Mill said they favored a redistricting committee's proposal for new boundaries to take effect when the new school opens. The school board will vote on the plan at its March meeting.

Fountain Green Elementary, on Route 543 near Route 22, is to open Aug. 30 with about 520 students and 23 teachers. The school probably will reach its capacity of 600 students within four years, school officials say.

All Fountain Green's students will come from Prospect Mill Elementary or from families moving into the area. Prospect Mill will get 141 students from Bel Air Elementary and 76 from Hickory Elementary.

Fountain Green will be a "great relief" to Prospect Mill Elementary, which has 1,037 students, 287 more than its capacity, said Principal Daniel E. Harner. The school has seven portable classrooms for the overflow.

After redistricting, the school will have 765 students, 15 over its intended capacity of 750, he said.

Bel Air Elementary, which has 758 students, will have 651 students under the redistricting plan -- still exceeding its capacity of 560.

Hickory Elementary, which has 854 students, will have 788 under the redistricting plan. Its capacity is 745. Seven children from Hickory who live along Conowingo Road will be transferred to Bel Air Elementary.

Transferring to a new school is more difficult for parents than for students, elementary school principals told parents at the meeting. Even after children have adjusted to their new school, parents continue worrying that their kids won't fit in, the principals said.

"Moving is 10 times more traumatic for the parents than it is for the children," said Patrick E. McCarty, Hickory Elementary principal.

But Barbara Donovan, a parent who lives in Thomas Run, said, "You can't underestimate the trauma to children."

Mr. Harner, principal at Prospect Mill, said his school is ready for the new students.

"If the school board approves the redistricting, my PTA has a letter ready to welcome parents from Bel Air Elementary and Hickory Elementary," he said. Mr. Harner said the school would hold meetings for parents and students.

"It's important to make these parents feel a part of the school immediately," he said.

Mr. Harner said affected students from Hickory and Bel Air would be bused to Prospect Mill to spend half a day this school year.

"We are going to pair each new student with a buddy who is the same age, so they can get to know the school," he said.

New students will also get a snack at the school and a souvenir of the school, he said.

But some parents still opposed the plan.

John Huth said redistricting would cause day-care problems for his 6-year-old son. Children in Mr. Huth's neighborhood will continue to go to Bel Air Elementary, and Mr. Huth said he wanted his son to stay at that school.

"My problem is that the lady who has provided day care for my children for 1 1/2 years, under the redistricting plan, now lives in a neighborhood where the children will go to Hickory Elementary," he said.

For Mr. Huth and other parents who drop their children off at day care early in the morning, the school system will transport the children to the school serving the day-care provider's neighborhood.

Mr. Huth wanted to know if the school system could make a special trip to transport his son to Bel Air Elementary, but school officials denied the request.

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