Annapolis community activists are calling for reopening Adams Park Elementary and accusing officials of shutting them out of the process of redrawing school attendance boundaries.
A coalition of black community organizations announced Friday that it would hold a rally at 2 p.m. today at Adams Park Elementary to drum up support for a redistricting plan that would include reopening the school at Clay and Glenwood streets.
"Our position is that all kids should have equal opportunity and access to opportunity in the educational system," Orlie Reid, co-chairman of the Educational Equity Committee for Community Relations, said at a press briefing Friday at the Mount Olive A.M.E. Church.
Children in the Adams Park, College Creek and Clay Street corridor now attend two schools: West Annapolis, which is about three miles away, and Rolling Knolls, which is about six miles away, said Sheryl Banks, head of the Black Political Forum.
Many Adams Park parents lack transportation to get to those schools, which means they miss parent-teacher conferences, don't join the PTA and generally stay uninvolved in their children's school activities, she said.
Reopening Adams Park, she and other coalition members said, would encourage more support and involvement from parents because the school is within walking distance. The school closed in the mid-1970s and now houses the Learning Center, a school for troubled youths.
Opening a school within walking distance would translate into improved performances by minority students and fewer discipline problems, Mr. Reid and other coalition members said.
The coalition is made up of the Adams Park Community Alumni Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Educational Equity Committee for Community Relations, the Black Political Forum, the Annapolis All-Stars and the Planning Action Committees for Anne Arundel County.
The school board has until Friday to adopt a redistricting plan for the Annapolis area, which has more than 800 students.
The board is focusing on two redistricting plans, one sponsored by the Citizens Advisory Committee and the other, the Parole Elementary School Plan 2, being backed by the coalition.
The plans are similar; the major difference is that the Parole plan calls for reopening Adams Park.
Stan Womack of the Annapolis All-Stars, a youth organization, said school board members in a meeting Wednesday generally seemed to ignore concerns raised by the black parents.
"I don't believe, as a father and a citizen, our Board of Education has
the best interest of all our kids at heart," he said.
School Superintendent C. Berry Carter II, who submitted his redistricting plan to the school board in December, said the session Wednesday was not intended for public comment. He said the redistricting process has so far involved 21 public meetings in Annapolis to gather input from parents, with most of the meetings at night and on weekends to encourage maximum participation.
"I certainly regret that anyone feels that way, but every effort was made to be as all-inclusive as possible in the process," he said.
School officials say a major problem facing the board is that if it decides to reopen Adams Park Elementary School, it must find another site for the approximately 85 students enrolled in the Learning Center.
The board will meet to discuss redistricting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at board headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.