Foes of school rezoning seize a chance to let the mayor hear their complaints BALTIMORE CITY

March 18, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

A small group of parents and advocates used the weekly city Board of Estimates meeting yesterday as a forum to air their complaints about the Baltimore school system's controversial rezoning plans.

Peggy Roth, a mother of two city schoolchildren, and Mindy Mintz, head of the advocacy group Students First, told the board that rezoning should be delayed because parents did not have enough time to comment on a dramatically revised plan unveiled last month.

A public hearing on that revised plan -- the last in a series of meetings on the issue that was first broached late last year -- will be held at 5 p.m. today at school headquarters at 200 E. North Ave. If approved by the school board next month, the plan would go into effect at the start of the new school year in September.

Ms. Roth and Ms. Mintz, supported by a handful of other parents, appeared as the Board of Estimates was considering a $24,000 contract for two educational consultants to work on reforming middle school curriculum and instruction. They quickly steered the discussion to rezoning.

"Let's start over," said Ms. Mintz, who complained that the process was tainted because there was never enough initial parental involvement.

"There's many more decisions coming from North Avenue," added Ms. Roth. "We want to be in on all the decision-making. We do not want them to start the train without all the passengers on board."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who sits on the board, agreed that parental involvement was needed, saying "We can't go anywhere without you and other parents' broad involvement."

But the mayor warned that there were likely to be some who disagreed with the final plan, adding, "I am going to be supportive of the superintendent."

The original rezoning plan touched off a firestorm of protests and school officials have dramatically revised the plan to scrap many of its most controversial elements.

The Board of Estimates holds the city's purse strings, voting on contracts and other fiscal matters. The board has no direct involvement with school issues such as rezoning.

In other action, the board approved the contract for the consultants on middle schools and it approved a one-year lease allowing the minor league Bowie Baysox to use Memorial Stadium.

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