Fees viewed as way to build schools ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

April 01, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

A member of the Annapolis City Council suggested last night that the city consider charging developers impact fees to help pay for new schools that will likely be needed because of new housing developments along Forest Drive.

"I just wanted to raise the idea," said Alderman Dean Johnson, a Ward 2 independent. "Maybe we ought to collect an impact fee and control it to make sure it goes to Annapolis area schools."

The issue came up at a meeting last night between the Anne RTC Arundel County Board of Education and the City Council. The primary reason for the session -- the first time in 32 years they have met on any issue, according to Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins -- is that attendance boundaries for Annapolis schools will soon be changed.

There are six plans now on the table to achieve that goal.

Judging from the discussion last night, development along Forest Drive may be a key factor in determining which plan is ultimately chosen.

Part of the problem is that the council has the final say in what developments are built or what land is annexed by Annapolis, but it doesn't have to consider the effect on schools. The county uses that as one of its criteria in approving boundaries.

Recently, the council approved two new developments on Forest Drive, virtually ignoring a letter from the county school superintendent warning that if the houses are built, already overcrowded schools will become more so.

"Our decisions affect schools," Mr. Johnson said. "Should we be helping them find the funds to expand or re-open a school or build a new one?" Although there are only a few parcels left to be developed within city limits, school planners fear developers will begin to seek annexation.

"The problem is you get more students [when the council approves new developments] and no more money because the city doesn't contribute anything to county schools," said Michael K. Raible, director of planning and construction for county schools.

The meeting also included a briefing for the City Council on the six plans:

* One proposal submitted by Schools Superintendent C. Berry Carter II calls for sending students from Harness Creek, Hunt Meadows and Gentry -- who now attend Parole -- to Tyler Heights Elementary instead.

His proposal to have students attend schools closest to their neighborhoods would increase the minority population at some schools. A drawback is that some schools, such as Germantown Elementary, that are already overcrowded would have even more students.

* Plan B calls for re-opening Adams Park Elementary. The site is now the home of the Learning Center for students with behavioral or other discipline problems.

* Plans C and D would redistribute more evenly among the schools the numbers of children who live in high density, high-yield housing, such as public housing.

* Plan E, created by a coalition of several Citizens Advisory Committees from various Annapolis schools, is perhaps the most racially balanced plan, and the only plan that keeps attendance in eight of nine schools at or below capacity.

* Plan F calls for establishing a permanent elementary school in a wing of Annapolis Middle School. The wing has been used as an elementary school temporarily during renovations of Parole and Eastport elementary schools.

The school board tries to arrange attendance areas so that a group of students who start elementary school together also attend the same middle and senior high schools. Other attendance areas now being redistricted include schools that send students to Meade, Northeast and Chesapeake and Annapolis high schools.

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