Parents oppose a proposal to redistrict Aberdeen's elementary schools

January 30, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Staff Writer

Cheryl Lundy went to Bakerfield Elementary School in Aberdeen when she was a child and was happy there. Now she would like her twin third-graders to stay at the school.

Mrs. Lundy was among those who told Harford school board members Wednesday why some parents are not pleased with the proposed redistricting of Aberdeen elementary schools. The plan would shift about 186 children to different schools.

There are 2,180 students attending the four Aberdeen schools -- Bakerfield, Hall's Cross Roads, Hillsdale and Roye-Williams.

Douglas S. Wilson, chairman of the committee exploring redistricting options, said the panel had looked at 10 goals to establish new boundaries for the schools, including a neighborhood school concept, and racial and socioeconomic balance.

"We have been wrestling with redistricting" since May, Mr. Wilson said to about 100 parents and educators who met in Aberdeen Middle School's auditorium. The school board will vote on the committee's proposal at its meeting Feb. 14.

The recommendation that seemed to upset the largest group of parents, many of whom live in the Windemere Estates development, was the transfer of 73 Bakerfield Elementary children to Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School.

"A lot of time and money has gone into deciding where our children will go to school," said Joey Lundy, father of twins Heather and Megan. "To disrupt our children in schools can have negative results."

Perhaps the most poignant testimony came from eight Bakerfield schoolchildren, who told the board and county school Superintendent Ray R. Keech why they wanted to remain at the school.

"I want to stay at Bakerfield because I like the teachers and have lots of friends at Bakerfield," said 7-year-old Nicholas Brooks.

"Bakerfield is like a home to me, and I wouldn't ever run away from home," said student Shannon Clark.

Another point of contention with the Windemere parents is the recommendation that 68 prekindergarten and kindergarten students at Hall's Cross Roads go to Bakerfield. In 1986, prekindergarten and kindergarten students from Bakerfield were moved to Hall's Cross Roads as a temporary solution to crowding.

Mr. Wilson explained that as part of its neighborhood school criterion the committee wanted to keep prekindergarten through fifth grade in the same school.

Another idea presented to the board was to grandfather the students who are at Bakerfield.

"I'd like to make the recommendation that we leave the kids who are there now and let them finish where they started," said Windemere resident John Wallace.

One teacher felt compelled to speak after a parent in the audience attacked Hall's Cross Roads Elementary as a crime area.

"You're going to have crime anywhere," said Michael Seymour, a first-grade teacher at Hall's Cross Roads.

"Our staff is just as professional as any other teachers in this county," he said.

Others in the audience who voiced their approval of the redistricting plan were members of the parent-teacher group at Roye-Williams Elementary, the only school that isn't affected by the proposal.

"Eighty-five percent of the [school] is Aberdeen Proving Ground population and 15 percent is civilian," said Mr. Wilson, the committee chairman. "We wanted to keep [the military] together."

School board member Anne D. Sterling said that before a decision is made, board members will query school administrators about the redistricting plan.

Mrs. Sterling also expects to hear from parents.

"This is one of the hardest things we have to do," she said. "Anyone who has moved from school to school knows it is really a wrench."

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