Parents don't want school closed

March 25, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

A proposal to close Hamilton Elementary and Middle School No. 236 this fall and transfer its 600 students has angered some parents.

A city school committee voted last week to recommend that the school, in a 69-year-old red brick building in the 6100 block of Old Harford Road, be closed rather than have a $4.1 million renovation. Students would move to the old Northern Parkway Junior High School building, in the 2500 block of East Northern Parkway. That school building is only about a half-mile from No. 236, but is not linked as closely to the neighborhood.

"I am upset because I feel that [No. 236] is their school, and why should they do that to the children?" said Cindy Sisson, who has two children enrolled there. "If they don't do something about [the closing], I'm going to take them out."

The committee recommendation has been sent to Patsy Blackshear, assistant superintendent for management services for the city school system, and is likely to be considered by the school board in April.

Parents received a letter and a fact sheet this week explaining the recommendation.

Dr. Blackshear and Tony D. Barnes, acting principal of No. 236, yesterday defended the decision to close the school. The Northern Parkway site, they said, offers updated classrooms, auditoriums and cafeterias, which No. 236 does not have.

At the new site, a 23-year-old building, students would be taught in classrooms on one floor. They would also have access to an 800-seat auditorium and a modern gym.

Dr. Blackshear also said that the $4.1 million allocation would permit only a limited renovation of No. 236.

"For $4 million, once you take out the asbestos, the balance will only allow you to do the mechanical things like plumbing and electrical," she said.

The cost of moving students from No. 236 to the Northern Parkway site is expected to be nearly $200,000 -- a substantial savings over the renovation estimates, Mr. Barnes said.

If the recommendation is approved by the school board, the $4.1 million earmarked for No. 236 would be diverted to other schools for renovations, Dr. Blackshear said.

The committee also made recommendations about use of the site of No. 236 after the building closes. They include converting the building into housing units for the elderly, replacing it with a park, or selling it to a church so that it may become a private religious school.

The old Northern Parkway Junior High School recently has been used as a temporary school for Montebello Elementary School No. 44 and Brehms Lane Elementary School No. 231 while they underwent renovations.

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