School board to discuss redistricting today

January 04, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County school board must decide today what, if any, redistricting plan it will put before the public for comment.

The board, which will meet at 10:30 a.m. at school system headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis, is scheduled to take up the redistricting issue at 3:30 p.m. Public hearing dates on the plan are scheduled for February and March.

The school board is considering redistricting because classrooms are crowded and, like other Maryland school systems, Anne Arundel cannot build schools fast enough to meet the need for student seats.

How far the board gets with its own plan, however, may be up to the courts.

Two Seven Oaks residents have asked an Anne Arundel circuit judge to throw out the 12-member Countywide Redistricting Committee's basic redistricting plan and prevent any redistricting this year.

The complainants, Zoe B. Draughon and Linda Lotz, are members of the Seven Oaks Community Association. Ms. Lotz also is chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council for Odenton Elementary School.

The women say the committee's plan to move 3,100 students violates Maryland's Open Meetings Act because the committee met behind closed doors but allowed school board members to make presentations.

P. Tyson Bennett, the county Board of Education's lawyer, ruled last year that the Open Meetings Act did not apply to a committee appointed by the board.

Superintendent Carol S. Parham's recommendation, which the board will consider today, is based on the redistricting committee's proposal.

Dr. Parham's version rejects nine key points of the committee's plan. It could not be determined how many students would be affected by her revisions.

Dr. Parham rejected moving the Learning Center from Adams Park Elementary in Annapolis to a school system site at Point Pleasant; building a new Piney Orchard Elementary School; shifting students from the Fox Chase neighborhood from Rippling Woods Elementary to Woodside Elementary; and moving the parent and infant/toddler program from Woodside Elementary to Andover Middle School.

The school board can change Dr. Parham's plan and make its own redistricting plan.

Public hearings on the plan are scheduled for Feb. 22 at Old Mill High; March 1 at Annapolis High; March 8 at Broadneck High; and March 13 at Northeast High. All hearings begin at 7 p.m.

The board must enact a redistricting plan by April 30 if the changes are to begin this fall.

Also on today's agenda is the transfer of funds within the construction budget for the current fiscal year.

The superintendent wants to transfer $900,000 from the Andover Middle School renovation project to partly cover a shortfall in the fund for systemic building improvements.

Jack White, financial officer for the school system, said the shortfall occurred when costs for various projects exceeded initial projections.

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