School redistricting panel seeks to create 'realistic' plan

May 19, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

A redistricting committee appointed by the county Board of Education says it will look at more than just redrawing school attendance boundaries.

"There's more than one reason a school might be over capacity," Bill Church, chairman of the redistricting committee, told the board last night.

"A school might be over capacity because the school was built 20 years ago and hasn't been renovated and doesn't have a computer room, or the school might have been built less than a year ago and may have a computer room," he said.

Last night, the committee delivered its first progress report. Its final report is due in October.

The committee has spent the past few months gathering facts about attendance, enrollment projections, county growth and development patterns, school construction plans and even roofs.

"We're trying to make our plan realistic," said Mr. Church. "It would be nice to come up with a $200 million plan, but there's no money to do it."

To help committee members with their decisions, a series of open meetings will begin in June so that the public will have an opportunity to comment, Mr. Church said. The dates will be publicized later.

"We'll ask for people's opinions both orally and in writing," he said. "We realize, as a friend of mine says, that the solution will be incandescent, not fluorescent. It will generate heat as well as light. We're totally aware that we've got two hot buttons -- kids and home values."

The board also discussed another hot button last night -- the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests.

Dr. Adam Milam, coordinator of testing for county schools, told the board how the tests were administered during the past two weeks.

"We're making progress," he said. "In the first two years, teachers were not allowed to see the test until the afternoon the day before it was given. This year they could see it 14 days ahead, and could practice the tasks themselves."

After listening to Dr. Milam, the board agreed to send a letter to the State Department of Education urging that the time for the test given to third-graders be reduced.

"Some tasks took from 85 minutes to 120 minutes, and we're questioning whether some of the tasks are developmentally appropriate," Dr. Milam said.

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