Expand, don't build, parents say

April 01, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

A group of Ellicott City parents still plans to advocate expanding Centennial High School to reduce the number of students forced to change schools under the school board's approved redistricting plan.

Parents from Dorsey Hall, a neighborhood slated to transfer to the new western high school in 1994, say they will work with the County Council to persuade members to expand Centennial and three other schools. They contend that would be less expensive than building a new high school after 2000.

"We intend to work with the County Council and the county executive to show the feasibility of building an addition to a free-standing building," said Kathleen Maizel, president of the Dunloggin Middle School PTA.

The Centennial expansion was --ed when County Executive Charles I. Ecker recently asked the school system to trim its $45 million capital budget request by $15 million for next school year. The money needed to be in place next school year for the expansion to be finished in 1996.

Centennial's expansion would have added capacity for 317 students to the school and have left space at the new western high school for a technology program. The plan, along with plans for additions to three other high schools, Mount Hebron, Glenelg and Hammond, is up in the air.

Dorsey Hall parents say they will lobby for money to build the four additions instead of building another new high school.

Building a new high school would cost about $30 million -- $25 million for construction and about $5 million for equipment and supplies. Building an addition would cost around $5 million, according to Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin.

Building the four additions would save the county about $7 million and provide 300 more seats than would the new fourth high school, according to school figures.

The parents support the school board's redistricting plan to shift students from their neighborhood to the new western high school and to shift youngsters from the Longfellow, Beaverbrook and Hobbit's Glen neighborhoods from Centennial to Wilde Lake in 1994.

But they say the better plan would be to move as few students as possible -- a notion possible only if Centennial gets an addition.

Mrs. Maizel said her group's goal is to allow space for the technology program as well as to try to keep the feeder-school system intact.

"One of the things we can give our children is security," she said. "I think this feeder school system offers this security, that the children will have friends who they will know for a long time," from elementary and middle schools.

Parents said they are frustrated over the redistricting process and criticized the press for "dumping" on their neighborhood.

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