School renovations needed, residents tell board hearing Boy's 'infomercial' is among the appeals

September 28, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,SUN STAFF

Worried that the Anne Arundel County school board won't turn the Brooklyn Park-Lindale building into a middle school as promised, Greg Engel did what any child raised in the '90s might do -- he prepared an infomercial.

"The following is an unpaid, unpolitical announcement," the Linthicum Elementary sixth-grader told the board at a hearing last night on school construction projects for next year.

"In other words, an infomercial which illustrates the differences between a sixth grade in middle school and a sixth grade in an elementary school," he said.

Greg was among nearly 40 county residents to testify on Superintendent Carol S. Parham's proposed $46.5 million school construction budget.

Using computer-generated art, Greg quickly narrated his tale.

"The student on the left, the middle school sixth-grader, is smiling and raising his hand because he knows the answer," Greg said. "He knows the answer because he did not lose class time to go to chorus, band and other during-school activities. The student on the right, the leading brand -- an elementary school sixth-grader -- does not know the answer because he was at band when his class reviewed this subject. At this point, he cannot recall what he did in band either because he had to leave early for a test."

The Brooklyn Park-Lindale renovation was called into question recently by state and county officials because it was designed to hold more than 900 students as approved, school board documents show. The same is true for Andover, its companion middle school.

In all, representatives of about 10 schools testified last night.

One woman, representing the Belvedere Elementary School PTA, pointed out that the 40-year-old building was to be renovated in the past, most recently in 1988, and now is scheduled for renovation sometime after 2000.

The school voluntarily passed up a media center renovation project in anticipation the school-wide renovations would begin next year.

"There are leaky, drafty windows that let in not just air but water, too," she said. "The lighting is poor and the rugs are shaggy and so mildewed they smell so bad some people have gone home sick. There are needs you must address now, but how can we trust or believe anything this board says?"

A group of half a dozen parents testified in favor of a $25 million project to replace Marley Middle School that has been postponed until 2000.

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