Elementary school site to be discussed

December 09, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Residents concerned about the proposed site of Howard County's next northern elementary school are expected to turn out for a public hearing before the school board tonight.

The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Department of Education at 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City.

The board has tentatively approved plans to build the elementary school, scheduled to open in September 1996, on 38 acres of land off Ilchester Road northeast of Talbots Landing in Ellicott City, on the same 160-acre parcel as the Trinity School, a parochial school.

Members of the Rockburn Elementary PTA plan to attend the public hearing because they are worried that students, already uprooted several times by past redistricting, would have to move again to the planned school.

"It's a lot of moving around for such a short time," said Cathy Manning, president of the Rockburn Elementary PTA, whose 8-year-old son would be attending his third school in five years if he enrolls at the new school.

Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin said the new school is needed to forestall future overcrowding at other elementary schools in northeast Ellicott City.

"That's why we need the 1996 school," he said, adding that the northeast area is projected to grow by 1,000 students by the year 2004.

Board members, who tentatively approved the site last month, are expected to make a final decision Jan. 13.

In other business, the board is expected to hear a report about planned changes to the opening and closing times for a middle school and four elementary schools in Columbia and Elkridge.

According to Robert Lazarewicz, executive director of operations, the county school system could save about $50,000 by adjusting the opening and closing times for four schools.

Under the plan, Mayfield Woods Middle School would open and close 10 minutes earlier than currently; Phelps Luck and Rockburn elementary schools would open and close five minutes earlier; Swansfield Elementary School would open and close 10 minutes later; and Talbott Springs Elementary School would open and close five minutes later.

The school system already has saved about $360,000 this fiscal year by adjusting the opening and closing times of 37 schools, Mr. Lazarewicz said. The savings come about through scheduling that allows more efficient use of contract bus transportation.

Board members also will review a staff report about bus ride times that includes a proposal to limit all bus trips to less than 30 minutes.

Currently, the longest bus rides last 40 to 50 minutes in western portions of the county, Mr. Lazarewicz said.

"The problem is at the middle and high school level," he said.

Because the county's high schools and middle schools cover larger attendance areas than elementary schools, those students ride the bus longer.

Mr. Lazarewicz also said bus rides last longer in western Howard County because buses stop at each student's house. In denser areas of the county, such as Columbia, buses pick up more children at each bus stop, thus shortening the ride time. The shortest bus rides last a couple of minutes, he said.

To reduce all bus ride times to less than 30 minutes, the school system would have to contract the services of 32 new school buses at an annual cost of $960,000, Mr. Lazarewicz said.

To reduce ride times to less than 40 minutes, he said, 12 buses would have to be contracted for at a cost of $360,000.

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