School redistricting is opposed

June 17, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

As one Severna Park parent explained it last night, being told her child would have to attend a different school would be like telling an Orioles season ticket-holder at the stadium gate, "You have no choice but to go to Philadelphia and be a Phillies fan."

"I'm not a Phillies fan. I'm an Orioles fan. Nobody should go," Karen Kelly-Kiehne told the Anne Arundel County redistricting committee at its fourth public forum, held at Old Mill High School.

"We have to fight the Board of Education together and tell them redistricting is not an option."

The committee was appointed by the school board to develop a plan to relieve overcrowding in classrooms.

About 75 people attended the meeting, and most of the 20 people who spoke told committee members that communities, and the schools in them, should be left alone.

Ms. Kelly-Kiehne bluntly told of her own redistricting experience as a child in Severna Park. "I was in three junior high schools in three years. It stunk," she said.

But the kind of plan the committee will end up creating was the least of Edwin F. Dosek's concerns. Mr. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association, told the committee he was disturbed by the committee's approach to redistricting.

"You said your goals were comprehensive redistricting and maximum utilization of space," he said. "It sounds like you mean to redistrict and fill every empty space.

"I think if you start with that premise, you're doomed to failure and doomed to criticism. People at the other forums have already told you it's not a matter of numbers. It's a matter of children. Whatever you do, keep the Crofton community together. Redistricting destroys communities."

Tim Lynch, a doctor with an office in Crofton, agreed in principle with Mr. Dosek.

"Don't just look at map lines," Dr. Lynch said. "Come to Crofton and see for yourself; it's a community. And I hope you'll keep in mind that most of us selected homes with the idea that our children would go to a neighborhood school."

The Seven Oaks Community Association also renewed its argument that children living there should not be shifted from the Arundel High School feeder system into the Meade High feeder system, as an earlier redistricting plan would have done.

A feeder system consists of a group of elementary and middle schools whose students move on to a particular high school.

"You know the basic argument. We picked our community, we picked our schools, and we want to stay where we are," said Zoe Draughon, association president.

"We're not a military site, we're part of Odenton," she said. "Even the county planning department listed Seven Oaks as part of its Odenton Town Center Plan. If you redistrict us, you'll separate our community so that we're not part of Odenton and we're not part of Meade. If you have to move students, move whole schools between feeder systems, not neighborhoods."

Steven Tyler, a representative of the Committee for Neighborhood Schools, praised the committee for taking time to listen to parents.

"What the communities are saying is, 'Consider our community, consider our children, consider our lives,' " Mr. Tyler said. "And we've mobilized people to encourage those positive principles."

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