Last-minute enrollments mark first day of school

August 30, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

From a principal's point of view, the first day of school isn't the ideal time to enroll your child. But that's what many parents did yesterday in Anne Arundel County's public elementary schools.

Jane Doyle, school spokeswoman, said a "rash of last-minute enrollments" was one of the few problems in an otherwise routine day.

"Really this was one of the quietest first days we've had in the eight or nine years I've been here," she said. "There was a problem with water at one school, but aside from that we've had very few problem calls."

The last-minute enrollments probably won't change the projected fall totals of 71,000 students, she said, but they did make it difficult for principals to find places for some students.

"We always wish parents would register students in the summer," Ms. Doyle said, adding she didn't know why so many waited.

A head count of all students won't be available for another week because not everyone started school yesterday.

Senior high students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades, for example, start school today.

Kindergarten students begin attending in thirds, with the first third of the county's 5-year-olds starting kindergarten Friday, and staggered admissions for other youngsters through Tuesday.

As for the rest of the school year, several new programs are in store for students and their parents.

Third-graders will be learning skills in conflict-resolution, techniques that will help them handle disagreements and avoid fights.

Annapolis Middle School is starting a program with the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club, the Annapolis Housing Authority and other community groups to increase parents' involvement in school activities.

And Annapolis High School will be experimenting with an in-house suspension program aimed at reducing problems with unruly students. It is one part of a new plan to deal with the growing problem of student misbehavior.

Anne Arundel County school officials have been taking a closer look at the problem and, based on an agreement with the federal Office for Civil Rights, will be forming a committee to examine whether discipline meted out in the past has been equitable.

Another major issue this school year will be a plan to redraw school attendance boundaries to reduce overcrowding in some schools.

School planners blame county government for not planning far enough ahead and for granting developers waivers to build new subdivisions where nearby schools won't be able to handle the new students who will come to live in the developments.

School board members created the redistricting committee to look at the situation from a countywide perspective, instead of a school-by-school, neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.

But parents and students have complained that such an approach doesn't take into account the effects schools have on communities.

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