Officials delay school opening to Sept. 1994

April 11, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

The opening of Church Creek Elementary in Belcamp will be delayed until September 1994 instead of next winter, Harford County school officials announced last week.

About 100 parents who met with Superintendent Ray R. Keech on Wednesday night at William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary in Abingdon wildly applauded the announcement.

The school system had planned to open the 600-student school, which has been delayed because of bad weather, in January 1994. But parents opposed the proposed opening date, saying that uprooting children midway through the school year would be disruptive.

"It seems that everything that could go wrong did go wrong when we tried to build this school," Mr. Keech told the audience.

Groundbreaking at Church Creek Road and Riverside Parkway was delayed from June until October because of soil tests for toluene, an industrial solvent. The site was given a clean bill of health after the tests were completed.

Rain in the fall and winter led to still more delays, and disputes with the general contractor, Peter J. Scarpulla Contractors Inc., put the project further behind, Mr. Keech said.

"This is the best decision they could have made," said Grace Durso, one of several Belcamp parents who collected petitions, wrote letters and made telephone calls to the school board in favor of delaying the school's opening.

The school system had presented parents several alternatives -- none of them popular -- to the midyear opening. Parents like Mrs. Durso were outraged when the school system suggested sending Church Creek students to empty classrooms at Aberdeen High School.

"I'm the parent of a 6-year-old daughter and I don't want her going to school with 15-year-olds," she said.

The school system said it could also send Church Creek students to William Paca/Old Post Road from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the William Paca/Old Post Road students to the same school from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Parents said that solution was not feasible.

Church Creek Elementary would have opened with about 500 students, pulled from Hillsdale Elementary and Bakerfield Elementary, both in Aberdeen, and William Paca/Old Post Road. To relieve crowding at Riverside Elementary in Joppa about 120 students would have then been transferred to William Paca/Old Post Road. These students will stay at their current schools until the fall of 1994, Mr. Keech said.

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