Hearing tonight to focus on crowding at George Fox Middle School

March 09, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County school administrators are rethinking plans for easing the overcrowding at George Fox Middle School, and they want to hear from parents.

To do that, they have scheduled a public hearing for 7 o'clock tonight at Northeast High School.

Last month, the State Board of Education stopped the school system from transferring George Fox's eighth-graders to Northeast, as school administrators had planned.

That left unsolved the problem of crowding at George Fox -- built for 844 students but with a projected enrollment next fall of 1,041.

George Fox already has one portable classroom, and school planners say four more will be needed if the eighth-graders are not transferred. The school was last renovated and enlarged in 1989.

Parents will have a chance to discuss four options at tonight's meeting:

* Assign middle school students (grades six, seven and eight) in the Riviera Beach Elementary School attendance area to Chesapeake Bay Middle School instead of George Fox. The students would attend Northeast for grades nine through 12.

* Assign the eighth grade from George Fox to Northeast.

* Add portable classrooms at George Fox.

* Put students on split sessions at George Fox.

The county school board's plan to transfer the students to Northeast was appealed by parents. The state school board agreed that the eighth-graders could not be transferred without a public hearing on that proposal and ordered tonight's hearing.

The state board also faulted the county board because the proposal did not appear on the agenda at a public hearing. County school administrators argued that the idea developed from comments made at the public hearing and that they therefore did not need to hold a separate hearing.

In an apparent effort by school administrators to protect themselves in case there is another appeal, tonight's agenda specifically states that there will be discussion of "other options that may be brought forward."

Michael K. Raible, who recently resigned as director of construction and planning for county schools, said in a February interview that the state ruling would affect redistricting decisions by forcing the school system to hold separate public hearings on ideas that grow out of other public hearings.

A spokesman for the State Board of Education said its ruling was narrow and simply pointed out that the county board did not follow its own procedures, thereby "acting unlawfully."

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