Halves or wholes, there are too many Over 900 students jam Ring Factory

September 05, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Several schools in Harford County opened last week with new students and an old problem -- too many students.

Ring Factory Elementary is either 305 students over capacity orif half-day kindergartners are counted as half-students, 186 over capacity.

Either way it's a very crowded school.

Classroom space at the school on Emmorton Road near Ring Factory Road in Bel Air has been increased by adding nine portable classrooms, but there is no way to expand other facilities, such as the library, gym or bathrooms.

"It's a very demanding situation and takes a tremendous amount of planning," said Principal Stephen L. Hagenbuch.

For example, he said, teachers asked for a bathroom schedule the second day of school. "Our facilities were not designed to handle this many students," he said.

There are times when all primary children are taken to the restrooms so they can wash their hands before going to the cafeteria. Teachers will now have set times to take their students, he said.

Ring Factory opened four years ago at its 600-student capacity and has added three portable classrooms every year since then, Mr. Hagenbuch said.

"We have 905 students total, and that's above the most liberal projections," he said.

When school started last Monday for most of the county's 35,000 students, Ring Factory expected about 856 students, not adjusting for half-day kindergartners.

Mr. Hagenbuch said counting each half-day kindergartner as a half-student doesn't make the school less crowded.

"We still have 905 students who need materials. We still have 905 sets of parents who need to talk to us," he said.

Ring Factory should get some relief next fall, when Country Walk Elementary in Bel Air is scheduled to open.

The new school should also ease crowding at Homestead Wakefield Elementary, also in Bel Air. That two-building school has a capacity of 1,005 but an enrollment, if kindergartners are counted as half-students, of 1,223.

Four other elementary schools in the county are also over capacity. The enrollment figures count kindergartners as half-students since they go to school half-day.

Those schools, with their rated capacity and their adjusted enrollment, are: Hillsdale Elementary in Aberdeen, 460 capacity, 481 enrolled; Magnolia Elementary in Joppa, 550 and 557; Riverside Elementary in Joppa, 624 and 670; and, William S. James Elementary in Abingdon, 575 and 599.

Two secondary schools are also over capacity. Bel Air Middle has a capacity of 1,012 students and an enrollment of 1,073 students. The school is scheduled for a 300-student addition.

C. Milton Wright High in Bel Air has a capacity of 1,197 students and an enrollment of 1,287. The school is scheduled to get a 25,000-square-foot addition, including a second gym, by next fall.

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