3 academic magnet programs approved at Sudbrook Middle

May 01, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Sudbrook Middle School will reopen in 1994 with three academic magnet programs, but the Baltimore County school board this week eliminated a proposal for a fourth concentration -- in physical education and athletics.

Board members said they killed the physical education proposal because it might be interpreted as existing for the sole purpose of attacting black youngsters to the Pikesville-area school and because including four magnet programs seemed like too ambitious a beginning.

The board also gave its initial OK to a proposal for a 1994 magnet program in mathematics, science and computer science Parkville High School on the northeast side of the county.

As the county's first magnet middle school, Sudbrook will serve sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from the western part of the county in three special-interest programs: foreign languages; visual and performing arts; and mathematics, science and computer technology.

There will be open enrollment at Sudbrook for youngsters who live within the school's old boundaries. But those students will also have the choice of attending Pikesville Middle School, as they do now.

Sudbrook, which straddles a politically sensitive boundary between predominantly black and predominantly white schools, was closed in 1983 because of declining enrollment. Now that the student population is growing and Pikesville is overcrowded, Sudbrook is needed again. But its ultimate disposition has been a source of considerable controversy.

It was this unrest that led the board to oppose the magnet focusing on athletics and physical fitness at its meeting Thursday night.

"This is almost like a private school model that would draw a number of nonminority students," Dunbar Brooks, the board's only black member, said of the overall plan for the school.

But he said he was bothered by an implication that an athletic concentration would be necessary to draw minority students to Sudbrook. "It reinforces old stereotypes," he said.

Board President Rosalie Hellman agreed. "I was uncomfortable when that was presented to us. I don't like the implication of that." Furthermore, board member Alan Leberknight said he thought creating four magnet programs would be "spreading the school too thin" and that three would be better at the start.

The plan came from a committee of school and community leaders who studied a variety of possibilities for the 1,000-seat school.

The committee also recommended that Sudbrook establish a dress code, set specific academic and behavioral standards and and strive for a diverse student population.

The foreign language magnet will stress languages not traditionally taught in high school -- such as Japanese or Hebrew -- and will in corporate what the committee called "the inclusion method."

That means students will speak the language they are studying during the school day and will even receive instruction in other subjects in that language.

Donna Flynn, principal at Arbutus Middle School, will be Sudbrook's new principal, starting in July.

The Parkville magnet proposal is similar to one scheduled to open in September at Woodlawn High School in the western part of the county. Itwill offer an array of fast-paced mathematics, science and computer courses to students whose interests and abilities are in those areas.

Algebra I will be a prerequisite for the program, and ninth-grade students will take both advanced geometry and advanced algebra, along with classes in physics, chemistry, computer science and research techniques.

Students will take their other courses with Parkville students who are not in the magnet program. The magnet program will accept up to100 ninth-graders its first year and add 100 each year, said Parkville Principal John Smeallie. The school has almost 1,200 students this year and can accommodate nearly 1,500.

The magnet program will be open to students living east of Falls Road. Among the criteria for acceptance are an interest in the subjects, teachers' recommendations, test scores and a student essay.

Sudbrook and Parkville are the eighth and ninth magnet programs approved in the county. The others will open in September.

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