Board votes to reopen school Decision rejects redistricting plan

April 27, 1993|By Carol Bowers | Carol Bowers,Staff Writer

Adams Park Elementary School will again have students and will reopen no later than 1997.

In response to an outpouring of support from parents and community members, the Anne Arundel County school board voted 5-2 last night to reopen Adams Park and to reject the school superintendent's plan to redraw school boundaries in the Annapolis area.

The plan approved by the board was a compromise crafted by a coalition of Citizens Advisory Committees in the Adams Park area.

The superintendent's proposal was created to develop neighborhood schools so that students would attend the school closest to their home. But the plan developed by Superintendent C. Berry Carter II would have created overcrowded conditions in several elementary schools, including Germantown Elementary.

The compromise plan kept intact the idea of neighborhood schools but made minor adjustments necessary to avoid overcrowding. The school board debated the two proposals for more than two hours last night, which was a continuation of a 6 1/2 -hour meeting that started April 21.

As part of the proposal to reopen Adams Park, the school board agreed to expand and relocate the Learning Center, now housed in the Adams Park facility. Board of Education staff members must now tackle the issue of where to relocate the Learning Center, which provides a program for middle school students who have serious behavioral problems.

But the proposal enacted last night eliminated the possibility that the Learning Center would be relocated to the site of the Carver Center, which is used for staff development programs.

James Lyons, principal of the Learning Center, said he would have opposed using the Carver Center because it is half the size of the Adams Park building.

"Everybody has agreed that neighborhood schools are a good idea," Mr. Lyons said early yesterday afternoon. "But nobody has had a really good suggestion for an alternative site for the Learning Center. It might be almost as cost effective to build a new facility as to renovate another building."

During the heated debate, school board member Thomas Twombley warned that adopting the proposal to reopen Adams Park as an elementary school could be expensive and that the school board could not guarantee that the county executive or the County Council would vote to spend money on the project.

Mr. Lyons estimated that it would cost about $2 million to convert Adams Park back into an elementary school. The project would have to be paid for with county dollars, Board of Education staff members said.

"Are you willing to juggle all our other priorities to make this happen?" Mr. Twombley asked fellow school board member Maureen Carr-York.

"Yes," she replied, "because we do it all the time. We juggled to move Solley Elementary School up [on the list of priorities], roofs and the North County High School."

Michael Pace, another school board member, agreed with Ms. Carr-York. "What it means is this board cannot play games. We can't put Adams Park on the bottom of our priority list and say, 'Sorry folks, we couldn't get funding.' "

About 250 parents and community members from the Parole and Adams Park areas attended. At one point during the discussion, when Mr. Pace was considering requiring a plan to keep parents involved once Adams Park reopens as an elementary school, community members objected.

"Do we require other communities to do this?" asked Rhonda Pindell-Charles, a representative from the Parole-area Citizens Advisory Committee, who helped draft the compromise plan.

"You don't know what a difference it makes having a neighborhood school," Ms. Pindell-Charles said. "This community realizes the difference because they haven't had one for many years. But no one questioned ever that they had parental involvement when they had a neighborhood school."

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