School redistricting plans outlined

January 28, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

The Howard County school board last night got its first look at redistricting proposals for elementary, middle and high schools for next school year.

Among the proposals in the 46-page document is a staff recommendation to redistrict students who live in Dorsey Hall from Centennial High School to Wilde Lake High School next fall. The proposal does not include a grandfather clause that would allow younger students to attend school with older siblings already at Centennial -- a lack parents will likely object to at public hearings scheduled in March.

"We've waited as long as possible before initiating change for a variety of reasons," said Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin, who presented the redistricting plan to the school board and about 60 parents at a meeting at the Department of Education building in Ellicott City. "Now it's time."

Dr. Kalin warned that all high school boundary lines would likely be changed in 1996 when two new high schools are set to open. He proposed setting up information dissemination committees of two parents and a staff member at each of the county's eight high schools. Starting as early as this spring, the committees would work with him to develop a long-range, high-school redistricting plan, he said.

"I think this will help people . . . become more informed," Dr. Kalin said. "The more people who look at the data and offer suggestions, the better the plan will become."

Copies of the redistricting plan will be available beginning today at every school and at public libraries. A videotape of last night's presentation will be shown next week on Cable 8, beginning Tuesday at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

For elementary schools, the school system staff proposed:

* Redistricting about 327 Waverly Elementary students, who live south of Interstate 70, to Ellicott City's Manor Woods Elementary, which is expected to open next fall.

* Transferring about 60 West Friendship Elementary students to Manor Woods in 1994. The students that would be affected live south of the intersection of Routes 99 and 144; on Carroll Mill Road between Triadelphia and Folly Quarter roads; and north and west of the Clarksville/Centennial Lane/Waverly elementary

school boundary lines that run to I-70. About 16 of the students will be in the fifth grade in 1994.

* Redistricting to Waverly about 112 Saint John's Lane Elementary students, who live in the Town & Country Boulevard area, including those on Springs Drive and those north of I-70. Saint John's Lane would get additional relief in 1997 when a northern elementary school is expected to open.

For middle schools, the staff proposed:

* Using Burleigh Manor Middle for additional classrooms for the overcrowded Centennial High, which will be 253 students -- or 25 percent -- over capacity next fall. The classrooms would be in a section of the school adjacent to the high school.

"Burleigh Manor is part of a campus environment, and on that campus is two schools," Dr. Kalin said. "The thought is why not share some of those resources."

* Adding relocatable classrooms at Hammond Middle School, which will be 220 students -- or 38 percent -- over capacity next fall.

"To go ahead and redistrict now could create real problems for us a year or two down the road," Dr. Kalin said.

SAT scores down

On an unrelated matter, the board was told that county high school students had a combined mean score of 969 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test last school year -- overall, seven points lower than the previous year.

Leslie Walker-Bartnick, school testing supervisor, while saying she was concerned about the lower score, said it was not unusual because it was "still within the normal fluctuations. I want to see what we score next year before we call it a trend."

More courses recommended

Last year, more than 1,600 seniors took the SAT, a multiple-choice test colleges use as an entrance exam. Students who took the test had a mean verbal score of 454 -- one point lower than the previous year -- and a mean math score of 515 -- six points lower.

Boys scored higher than girls on both sections of the SAT, and the number of academic courses students took determined their scores, Dr. Walker-Bartnick said.

"The more courses you take, the better you're going to do on the SAT," she said. "Students need to take more math courses to do well on the SAT. That's not just a county phenomenon. That's everywhere."

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