3 of 4 magnet school proposals carry big price tags

October 13, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore County school board is looking at three million-dollar magnets.

Proposals from Parkville and Deer Park Middle Schools and Patapsco High for new magnet programs all carried budgets of more than $1 million over three years when officials presented them at Tuesday's board meeting. The board also heard a magnet proposal for a finance program at Overlea High -- for less than $80,000.

Superintendent Stuart Berger said that while the special programs could become a reality, the size of their budgets could be wishful thinking.

The four plans, scheduled for a vote Oct. 25, will most likely be the last in the Magnet Class of '95. If they're approved, a total of eight new magnet programs will open next September, bringing the county's grand total to 23 over three years.

Magnet schools are intended to draw students with similar interests, to give families choices beyond their neighborhood HTC school, ease racial imbalances, and draw students from crowded schools to underused schools without the need for divisive fights over redrawn boundaries.

Almost without comment, the board approved three other magnets this week -- at Towson High, Johnnycake Middle and Hillendale Elementary schools. Johnnycake's budget also tops $1 million for the first three years.

But the board members had plenty to say to representatives of the schools putting their proposals before the board for the first time.

"The program sounds very exciting," Sanford V. Teplitzky told Parkville Principal Michael Zajdel.

But looking at the $1 million budget he said, "These numbers are pretty large . . . and I want to make sure we can justify it."

Patapsco Principal Barbara Russell defended the $1.6 million price tag on her school's arts proposal, calling it "a bargain budget" compared with the cost of building new schools. Patapsco, which is underenrolled, would draw from all Eastside middle schools.

Board Vice President Calvin D. Disney supported the argument, that every new seat costs the county $30,000. "If you are able to attract even five students, you are saving us $150,000 in bricks and mortar," he said.

Dr. Berger reminded the board that it was "approving the concept," not the budget, and that some proposals look like wish lists. But even without all the money requested, "We'll make it so you have a viable program," if the proposals are approved, he said.

The proposed magnet programs are:

* At Deer Park Middle, a replication of the program at the wildly popular Sudbrook Middle School, with additions. This Randallstown-area school will offer visual and performing arts, computer applications in math and science, foreign language immersion and mass communications. The program would be open to Deer Park and Franklin Middle students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades next year. Three-year budget: $1.28 million.

* At Parkville Middle, a smorgasbord approach with four magnets -- visual arts, applied engineering, mass communication and environmental science. The programs are open to students from Parkville and seven other Eastside middle schools.

* At Overlea High, a college preparatory program created by the National Academy Foundation, in place at more than 55 schools. It would incorporate personal development seminars with academics for students interested in banking, marketing, accounting, economics, real estate and the stock market. It would accept 100 ninth-graders from around the county for September 1995. First-year budget: $77,700.

* At Patapsco High, arts programs based on programs at Carver Center in Towson. It would begin with music, theater and visual ** arts magnets and add dance in 1996. It would be open to all ninth-graders in the northeast and southeast.

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