A school to save a community Anne Arundel County: School board did right to keep Clay Street elementary alive.

October 26, 1995

KUDOS TO SCHOOL Superintendent Carol S. Parham as well as the Anne Arundel County school board for renewing their commitment to reopen Adams Park Elementary in Annapolis' Clay Street neighborhood.

A school is the key to saving this poor, black community, which has been sliding downhill ever since the 1960s, when the government closed Adams Park as part of countywide desegregation and cleaned out the business district with empty promises of urban renewal. For years, a determined group of Clay Street homeowners have worked themselves ragged trying to revive their community. They're starting to see results. But they still don't have a school and without one lasting change is doubtful. Clay Street needs an institution to rally around, where parents can get involved in their children's education. When desegregation occurred, these children -- many whose families don't own cars -- were the ones who ended up being bused across town.

Some time ago, a member of the Anne Arundel Planning Advisory Board, which reviews construction projects, said reopening Adams Park "isn't an issue of money. It's an issue of whether we are going to change a community." The reservations raised about this project are mostly distractions from this point.

The school-crowding that bedevils other communities is a minor aggravation compared to what this community faces. The question of where to move the Learning Center for troubled students, which now occupies Adams Park, should not be hard to resolve; there's empty space scattered all over the system. Redistricting students to help fill Adams Park is a thorny issue, but even that could be avoided. School officials are tossing around the idea of making Adams Park a full-service community center, with needed services such as a day care and hospital station. That might generate some revenue, and make it unnecessary to bring in children from other areas.

School officials would be wise to hone the details of the Adams Park plan. Council members rejected it last year partly because they said they didn't have answers to the aforementioned concerns. The board needs to make it difficult for them to reject Adams Park a second time.

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