Board to hear plan for new school boundaries

November 16, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Eight months, 55 meetings and more than 3,300 hours after it started, the Redistricting Committee is ready to announce tonight its suggestions for new school attendance boundaries throughout Anne Arundel County.

The report will be presented at the school board's 7:30 p.m. meeting, which will be held at school system headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.

Bill Church, chairman of the 12-member committee, wouldn't reveal anything about the plan yesterday. He did say people should read the 50-page document thoroughly before commenting.

Mr. Church said the committee operated with three basic philosophies:

* Redistricting should be done countywide, not just in certain areas.

* The solution must be realistic, not "a feel-good" plan.

* The quality of students' education depends in part on giving them adequate space in schools.

"The other thing to remember is that we're all parents, too," he said.

Arguments over school attendance boundaries are legendary in Anne Arundel and other school districts. Until now, however, the county's debates have taken place annually basis and have involved plans that affected fewer schools and communities.

When the committee met with parents to get their suggestions, some parents lobbied the committee to consider neighborhood schools. Other parents stated their opposition.

In part, it was frustration over annual redistricting adjustments, and the resulting arguments, that prompted the eight-member school board to appoint a committee in March to take a broader view of redistricting. The board also had to look at redistricting because some of Anne Arundel's 117 schools are too crowded.

Highpoint Elementary has a dozen portable classrooms to handle the burgeoning elementary school population. South River High School has empty seats.

In preparation for the countywide redistricting, the school board decided that parents should be entitled to participate in only one public hearing after a plan is adopted.

The policy change was the board's attempt to allow for public response and avoid the possibility that unhappy parents might sue or appeal to the state Board of Education.

If the redistricting plan changes because of what is said at the initial public hearing, a second public hearing will be held, a concession to parents who objected to the board's initial plan to skip that step.

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