Board bows to Elkridge on new school's name

October 14, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Elkridge residents were jubilant yesterday when the school board voted to name a new middle school in their region after the town.

Some 30 Elkridge residents who attended yesterday's meeting burst into applause after the five-member board voted unanimously to name the school "Elkridge Landing" instead of "Landing Hills" as the staff recommended.

The school is scheduled to open next fall on Montgomery Road.

"It means our community can now remain together and gives us the opportunity to have our name always remembered through the years," Nancy Myers, a resident, said after the vote, wiping tears from her eyes. "I'm just very elated."

Minutes earlier, she had made an impassioned plea to persuade board members to adopt the name Elkridge Landing. She talked of the pride residents have in the community, which she said has been bisected by Interstate 95 and U.S. 1.

"Our children need to know their heritage and our community to stay together," she said.

In other matters, the school board approved a $49 million capital budget for next fiscal year, pushing forward a project to replace a school and deleting another project that would increase enrollment at a high school to 1,600 students.

The board unanimously voted to replace Ellicott Mills Middle in 1999 instead of 2002 as Superintendent Michael E. Hickey proposed in his capital budget.

Board members had a lengthy discussion at a Tuesday night public work session during which they expressed concern about neglecting the county's aging schools.

Board members also unanimously voted to cap Howard High's enrollment at 1,400 students, despite Dr. Hickey's recommendation to add 200 seats to make the school the largest in the county. The additional seats would enable school officials to reserve 300 seats for a technology education program at an eastern high school set to open in 1996.

"At 1,400, we're barely making it work," board Vice Chairman Susan Cook said. "At 1,600, we're asking for trouble."

Ms. Cook and other board members were afraid a larger student population would create a climate where more violence would occur.

Board members called on school officials to do a study of the effects of larger schools.

The board restored to Dr. Hickey's long-range capital budget plan a proposal to build a fourth southeastern elementary school set to open in 1999. Parents in the region had testified that using relocatables as a long-term solution was inadequate.

Board member Sandra French said she wanted to put the school in the budget so that school officials can continue looking for a 15-acre site. She warned that putting the school back in the budget is not "a guarantee for the community that it's there, [that] it's going to be there forever."

In other business, the board:

* Sent back for retooling a new policy that addresses community and parental involvement in children's education. At issue was a four-paragraph mission statement that essentially says the county school system encourages the establishment of partnerships among the home, school and community.

"It kind of reads like mashed potato," said board member Deborah Kendig. "It has some redundancy. We say the same things over and over again."

The board will hold a public hearing Nov. 10 and vote on the policy Nov. 22.

* Heard reports on a new teacher transfer policy and a revised administrator transfer policy. Both policies give teachers and administrators more notice and opportunities to apply for positions in other schools.

Some board members were concerned whether teachers' performance and attitude would be affected if they found out earlier in the school year that they were slated for involuntary transfers. While in the past teachers were notified they would be transferred at the end of the school year, the proposed policy calls for teachers to be notified by Feb. 15.

Dr. Hickey responded he was "willing to give the benefit of the doubt" that teachers' professionalism will enable them to rise above whatever ill feelings they may develop. He also said staff members felt it was unfair that they are notified of involuntary transfers at the end of the school year.

The board will hold a public hearing on the proposals Nov. 10 and vote on them Nov. 22.

* The board unanimously approved the site of a northern elementary school to open in 1997. The school's location is Route 99 in Ellicott City, near Patapsco Middle School.

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