Parents' aid sought as schools reopen Many are surprised, voice safety concerns

January 16, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel Superintendent Carol S. Parham asked parents yesterday to supervise children at bus stops, help clear snow-covered stops and watch out for children as Anne Arundel County schools prepared to reopen today.

Schools will open two hours late. There will be no preschool programs today and tomorrow because of the snow that covers area roadways and sidewalks.

"We need parents' cooperation to make this work," Dr. Parham said.

About 20,000 of the school system's 72,000 students walk to school each day. Dr. Parham said she considered delaying the reopening because of the number of communities with snowy roads and sidewalks. But after talking with road crew chiefs and county officials, she decided to reopen, Dr. Parham said.

"We could easily have schools closed for a month if we were to wait for all the walks to be cleared," she said. "We're not talking about just plowing or shoveling out snow in some of these communities, we're talking about needing backhoes."

Carolyn Roeding, a member of the county PTA safety committee and a state task force on school zone safety, said many parents were surprised to learn that schools would be opened.

"I'm very concerned about the decision, but we can't stop it at this point," she said.

"What we need to do is provide all the assistance that we can."

Diane Osborn, a member of the executive board of the Old Mill-South PTA, said she was "astounded" and disagrees with the decision to reopen. To check the conditions of roads and sidewalks yesterday, she drove to the Old Mill school complex, which her sons attend. She said she ended up spreading salt on access ramps for the disabled at school entrances.

"I'm trying to call everyone I know to let them know that we need help making sure kids get to school safely," she said.

Most people were ready to accept the decision.

"We went to school when we were kids in weather like this. I don't see any major problem with it," said Ida Hilditch, 62.

She said she spent part of yesterday morning lining up volunteers to post at key intersections along Delaware Avenue. She plans to be at Delaware Avenue and Carroll Road from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. today to make sure her grandson and other children have a safe walk to Glendale Elementary School.

"I think an awful lot of parents are going to be driving their kids to school," she said.

Harry Price made arrangements for a neighbor to drive his twins to Four Seasons Elementary School in Gambrills. Two feet of snow cover the walkway that children use to reach the school, he said. Without a ride, his children would have to walk on a busy road, made more dangerous by the snow, he said. But he said he could see the need to reopen schools.

"It's really a Catch-22," he said. "On the one hand, it's going to mean a lot of inconvenience for people, but on the other hand, you don't want kids having to go to school in July."

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