A new school year should be like a freshly washed blackboard -- a clean slate, wiped free of yesterday's scribbled mess.
In Anne Arundel, the blackboard still shows traces of the scandals and turmoil that marred the 1992-93 school year. But it's finally starting to come clean. As classes begin tomorrow, teachers, students and parents can look forward to putting controversy behind them and getting back to literature, algebra, school dances and football games.
No school needs this more than Northeast High, which has suffered an abnormal existence since the Ronald W. Price sex scandal broke last April. A state order to organize a support program for teachers and students appears finally to have awakened school officials to Northeast's needs. The county's plan exceeds the order, calling for a full-time nurse and psychiatrist, counseling sessions, even a rumor-control hotline. Northeast will not heal overnight, but these services are a critical first step.
Other schools, too, are starting over. Before the Price case, Severna Park Elementary was the center of controversy last year when principal Pat Emory was arrested on drug charges. Mrs. Emory was cleared, but officials wisely left Severna Park in the hands of acting principal Kim Bobola rather than stir the mixed emotions the community still feels. Now Mrs. Emory has a new school job, and Severna Park the promise of a year free of unrest.
In North County, students and teachers will move soon from the old Andover High into the long-awaited new North County High. And, Chesapeake High becomes the first school in the county to try a four-classes-a-day schedule.
Some problems will carry over from last school year: teacher dissatisfaction over the lack of pay raises; school violence, and the fate of Superintendent C. Berry Carter, on leave pending a probe of the Price case. Even these appear on the road to resolution, however. County officials will have a hard time asking teachers to do without raises a fourth year; a report on school discipline is in the hands of school leaders, and an investigator is looking into Mr. Carter's performance while acting superintendent Carol Parham runs the school system.
No one knows what 1993-94 will bring, but we hope the schools' worst crises have passed. It's time for healing.