School board proposes redistricting more than 2,900 students

January 05, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

More than 2,900 Anne Arundel County public school students would change schools under a redistricting proposal that was approved yesterday by the school board.

The proposal, which is to be put before the public for comment next month, is an adaptation of boundary changes developed by the Countywide Redistricting Committee, a group of 12 citizens appointed last year by the school board to look at the issue.

The plan will be the subject of four public hearings beginning next month.

Superintendent Carol S. Parham rejected portions of the committee's original proposal but kept intact a key initiative, building small additions at some schools. Smaller additions would be less expensive, would relieve crowding and would eliminate the need to renovate an entire school.

Yesterday, the school board further modified Dr. Parham's recommendations and developed a plan that would result in the transfer of 178 fewer students.

All of the board's proposed changes were made in the portion of the redistricting proposal dealing with the Severna Park feeder system. A feeder system is the combination of elementary and middle schools whose students eventually attend one of the county's 12 senior highs.

Specifically, the school board voted not to move the Severna Park Children's Centre from Oak Hill Elementary School (30 students); not to move the Manhattan Beach community to Oak Hill Elementary, (100 students); and not to redistrict 48 students from Cypress Creek.

In addition, the plan approved by the board would leave the Learning Center, for students with behavioral problems, at Adams Park Elementary in Annapolis. The redistricting committee had proposed moving the center to Point Pleasant so that renovations on Adams Park Elementary could begin.

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 will begin at 7 p.m.

How far any redistricting plan gets may be up to an Anne Arundel circuit judge. Parents Zoe B. Draughon and Linda Lotz filed a lawsuit last week challenging the Countywide Redistricting Committee's decision to meet behind closed doors while discussing specific school boundary changes.

P. Tyson Bennett, the school board's lawyer, ruled last year that the committee, because it was created by appointment, not a resolution, could meet in closed session without violating Maryland's Open Meetings Act.

The committee, which initially allowed the public to attend its meetings but prohibited comment, decided to close sessions to avoid creating panic among parents during discussions of the variety of options.

The two women, members of the Seven Oaks Community Association, contend that allowing school board members to attend the closed sessions voided any claims to privacy. They want a judge to declare the committee's redistricting illegal and to prevent the school board from implementing any variation of that plan.

To change school boundaries by the time schools reopen in September, the board must approve an action plan by April 30.

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