Parents and community representatives made it clear to the school board last night that they want the board to make decisions on redistricting that are in the best interests of students.
"We are the customer, our children are the product. We are not here as the Chesapeake Cluster vs. the Northeast Cluster. We are a unified community called Pasadena," said Nancy Schrum, president of the Bodkin Elementary School PTA and a member of the Chesapeake Cluster.
"We are taxpayers of Anne Arundel County [who feed] the pockets of every employee of the Anne Arundel County school system. Remember, we are the stockholders reminding you, the board, that our expectations and standards are high and we demand the best for our children," Mrs. Schrum said.
The public hearing last night at Northeast High School in Pasadena was attended by about 70 people and lasted about an hour. It was the last hearing on redistricting scheduled by the board.
At its April 5 meeting, the board will discuss what it heard from residents at the hearings.
The board must decide whether to accept Superintendent Carol S. Parham's redistricting plan or to amend it, which would make additional public hearings necessary. The hearings are held at the school board office on Riva Road in Annapolis.
Ms. Parham's redistricting plan is based on a report by 12 citizens, who were appointed last March by the board.
The board must vote by April 30 on any boundary changes that would take effect in the fall. It has proposed moving 2,900 of the county's 72,000 students to ease crowding in some areas.
Last night's sparsely attended hearing addressed redistricting in the feeder systems for North County, Northeast and Chesapeake high schools.
Marylou Dougherty, a parent representing George Fox Middle School, attributed the low turnout to the fact that some portions of the redistricting would not be implemented until 1998.
The crowded George Fox School now uses six portable classrooms (known as relocatables) and the board's recommendation that it continue to do so as needed did not please Chris Kirby, the school's PTA president.
Mr. Kirby said that by 1998 the school would have to add four more relocatables because of increasing enrollment, even though "the infrastructure of the school can't handle more than six relocatables."
George Fox is not the only severely crowded school.
Jacobsville Elementary is at its capacity of 466 students. The board wants to build an addition to Jacobsville to increase its capacity to 600 students by 1998.
Students from Jacobsville would be housed at Chesapeake Bay Middle during the renovation of their school.
By 1998, Jacobsville expects to have 718 students so the board wants to build an addition to nearby Fort Smallwood Elementary School to raise its capacity so it can absorb the overflow at Jacobsville.