Students back in school this week

August 28, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

School doesn't officially open until tomorrow, but some Davidsonville Elementary School students couldn't wait that long.

On Friday, Chris and Nick Mattingly went on a "test-drive" of the school's new playground equipment, including the plastic slides the school's Parent-Teachers Association fought for permission to install.

"We finished it this morning," said the boys' mother, Carol Mattingly, a Davidsonville PTA spokeswoman.

"They're very anxious to get back. I think they're getting a little bored at home," she continued.

"On Monday we'll put a pink ribbon around the playground and have an official ribbon-cutting ceremony."

Chris, 9, and Nick, 10, will be in fourth and fifth grade respectively, while older brother, Daniel, 11, is beginning sixth grade at Central Middle School. (Sister Alexandra, 3 1/2 , will have to wait until next year to start kindergarten and enjoy the playground equipment.) The three boys will be among nearly 71,000 students streaming into Anne Arundel County classrooms over the next two days.

"We're looking forward to another successful school year," Superintendent Carol S. Parham said Friday. "We're looking forward to new initiatives in the areas of school discipline, technology and first and foremost, instructional needs.

We're learning from our recent experiences and trying to redirect our focus on teaching and learning," she said.

Tomorrow, all elementary and middle students will return to classes. Students from Deale and South Shore elementaries will be borrowing classrooms for now. While Deale Elementary is renovated, its students will be going to Southern Senior High. South Shore students will attend Annapolis Middle for the same reason: renovation.

Some students at six of the county's 12 high schools have a brief reprieve. Only ninth-graders will report tomorrow at Annapolis, Meade, North County, Northeast, South River and Southern high schools; sophomores, juniors, and seniors will begin school Tuesday.

All high school students, however, will find themselves up earlier no matter what day they begin, because homeroom now starts at 7:25 a.m.

Parents and students as well as the school system were getting ready for the return to classes.

Rita Lowman, president of the Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs, took daughter Jennifer -- to be a junior at North County High -- shopping for clothes and to get a haircut last week in preparation, but bought no school supplies.

"I always wait until she brings the list home," said Mrs. Lowman, a Ferndale resident. "I'm usually out with the crowds the day after school starts trying to look for what the teachers have requested. I've had experience with this. Now I wait."

While parents, students and children were generally upbeat about the start of school, principals and school administrators were fretting over a continued disagreement with the school board.

The dispute began when the school board said it would withhold a longevity raise in the contracts made with each of the four unions that represent school employees.

Less than a week after the Association of Educational Leaders, which represents 250 school administrators, filed suit to get a court to uphold the contract, the school board offered the raise to the other three unions in exchange for health-care concessions.

Teachers, secretaries and maintenance workers were prepared to accept the offer, but declared they would support any job action by AEL members.

On Friday, the school board filed a counter suit against AEL.

Staff members were busy preparing alternative football schedules in case administrators "work to rule" and refuse to chaperon night games.

"The labor issue is a concern," Dr. Parham acknowledged. "If we had a choice, I would prefer not to be in this situation with the opening of school, but I'm hopeful the board of education and the unions will come to an agreement."

Mrs. Lowman said she spent last week fielding calls from PTA leaders.

"Principals have already told some PTAs there will not be 'back-to-school' nights this year because of this problem," she said. "I have some PTA parents up in arms. We just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best."

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