Fear and frustration in Dorsey Hall

October 19, 1993

The Columbia community of Dorsey Hall had to be disappointed last week when the Howard County Board of Education decided to delay funding for an addition to Centennial High.

Parents were hoping that an addition would allow their children to continue attending Centennial, something they had every reason to expect. Instead, now the board may have to revisit the Centennial-Wilde Lake High redistricting controversy.

The available evidence suggests officials were aware all along of plans to create a technology education program, part of it to be housed in a new high school to be built in the western county community of River Hill. Board members nonetheless approved a plan to redistrict the Dorsey Hall community into the western school earlier this year to avoid redistricting it into Wilde Lake, an option parents had vehemently opposed.

The board's cowardice on its Centennial-Wilde Lake vote last spring has been made worse by recent events. The fact is, redistricting Dorsey into the Wilde Lake High School area, where there is a high concentration of minority students, now seems virtually inevitable.

It is clear that Dorsey Hall could not be redistricted into the new western high, along with a "tech-ed" program, because it would create overcrowding there. And, abandoning "tech-ed" would be wrong given the enormous demand for high school graduates with specific technical training.

With the western high option gone, Dorsey Hall was banking on remaining in the Centennial district with an addition to be built there. By deciding to delay planning funds for a new Centennial wing, however, the board has forced itself into confronting the realities of a growing student population. Even if an addition is built, it cannot occur before 1997.

Meanwhile, school officials must deal with the over-enrollment at Centennial -- hence the probable Dorsey redistricting to Wilde Lake.

This is undoubtedly a bitter pill for many Dorsey parents, but it seems the only logical and fair course for the system to take.

Dorsey parents should have been told by the board in the first place that this would happen. Perhaps they would not have mounted such a spirited and distasteful protest. In the process, they left the perception that their community is racially intolerant, something that right-minded people of Dorsey do not deserve.

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