Neither rats nor stabbing can dim school opening

September 02, 1993|By Michael A. Fletcher and Michael James BALTIMORE CITY | Michael A. Fletcher and Michael James BALTIMORE CITY,Staff Writers

Articles in The Sun yesterday and Wednesday included an incorrect address for Montebello Elementary School. The correct address is the 2000 block of E. 32nd St.

The Sun regrets the error.

Baltimore's first day of school yesterday wasn't problem-free -- an infestation of rats delayed the opening of one school and a stabbing interrupted a class at another -- but city officials said they were pleased with the overall picture.

"On balance, it was a success," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "I visited four schools and [Superintendent Walter G.] Amprey visited at least six. Things seemed to be going well."

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Dr. Amprey said he was optimistic about the new school year and plans for boosting achievement, reducing violence and improving attendance. Each was a priority under Dr. Amprey's accountability plan last year.

"This year we will also stress a drastic reduction of suspension. We can no longer send our youngsters out into the street because of disruptive behavior," he said. "We must find ways to work with [students] within the schools and help change that culture in the schools."

Officials of the school system -- which has 177 schools and roughly 110,000 students -- have also expressed high hopes for 24 new "enterprise" schools, whose principals are granted more authority over management and spending.

Each enterprise school is held more accountable for student performance.

The most pressing problem facing school officials on the first day was ridding Montebello Elementary School of numerous rats. The school in the 2500 block of E. Northern Parkway was closed yesterday but was to have reopened today after workers drove the rodents out.

"They did a great job getting the school in shape," Mr. Schmoke said. "Apparently, it was not a major infestation problem. What happened is that when workers cut down some weeds in [a nearby] field, the doors for the school were open and rats ran into the building."

Workers from the school system and Baltimore Health Department labored for the past two days to fill in open spaces near floorboards and set traps, killing five rats.

Parents, teachers and construction workers had reported seeing the rodents and droppings in Montebello, which has just undergone a three-year, $5 million renovation.

At Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, a 16-year-old student was charged yesterday with stabbing another student, 15, in a fight in a classroom over a chair, police said.

The 16-year-old was charged as a juvenile with assault and possession of a deadly weapon, police said. The victim, Jamar Holt of the 3200 block of Ravenwood Ave., was stabbed in the arm and required stitches, police said.

The fight occurred about 11 a.m. at the school, located in the 1400 block of Orleans St. in East Baltimore. Police said the youths were arguing over the chair when the 16-year-old pulled out a knife.

Dr. Amprey said he hoped to battle negative images of the schools with public service announcements to be aired on local television and radio stations that stress raising student expectations and improving performance.

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