Sudbrook Middle to reopen as magnet Hayden's flip-flop revives project

July 08, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden said yesterday that he has decided to allow Sudbrook Middle School to reopen in 1994 as a magnet school, three months after he stunned administrators and community groups by yanking money for the project from the school department's capital budget.

Mr. Hayden blamed school officials for not keeping him informed about the project's status. "Communications have got to be better," he said. "I will be very reluctant to ever do this again."

He said he decided to restore the money last week after conversations with community members and groups. The County Council also had urged Mr. Hayden to restore funds for the Sudbrook proposal, which was developed with unprecedented input from the community and had wide support.

The decision is the latest in a series of roller-coaster moves involving the Pikesville-area school.

The Hayden administration first approved the $500,000 to re-equip the school in 1992. But the project was delayed by County Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, so that a study could be made of how best to use the building. That study, conducted over the past year by a citizens committee, concluded that a magnet school open to students throughout the racially mixed northwest area would be best.

Sudbrook, closed 12 years ago because of then-dwindling enrollments, is located between schools that are mostly black and schools that are mostly white.

Officials were looking for ways to relieve racial imbalances and relieve crowding at Pikesville Middle School without drawing new school boundaries that could stir up racial animosities.

The Sudbrook magnet school, which will draw students from the entire northwest area, will offer concentrations in foreign languages, visual and performing arts, math, science, and computers.

The Sudbrook plan was widely reported in the media, but Mr. Hayden said yesterday that school authorities never told him what they were doing. As a result, he said, he cut $500,000 to re-equip the school on April 15 after concluding that nearby middle schools were not crowded enough to warrant opening a new building now.

Mr. Hayden said he did not get a copy of the Sudbrook committee's report until six weeks after it was completed, and was not kept informed of the committee's work by school authorities.

"I'm obviously pleased," Superintendent Stuart Berger said after he heard that the money would be restored. Asked about Mr. Hayden's criticism, he said, "I don't want to fight."

But he added, "The $500,000 was there the year before. He [Mr. Hayden] put it there. Nobody ever asked us one question about Sudbrook. Nobody told us, 'Hey, we're taking this out.' " Mr. Berger said he concluded that he should not have made any assumptions about the Sudbrook money.

G. Scott Barhight, the Towson lawyer who chaired the Sudbrook committee, said he also is pleased by the decision but noted that his panel's work was hardly a secret.

"Hundreds of people came to these meetings," he said.

Mr. Barhight's committee was honored by the council on Tuesday, and Mr. Mintz, who represents Pikesville, yesterday thanked Mr. Hayden ". . . for listening to the community."

"I'm glad he came to a different decision," Mr. Mintz said.

The money will come from the sale of bonds authorized by county voters in 1990.

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