Parents seek a new Abingdon elementary school They object to transfers to reduce crowding

February 29, 1996|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,SUN STAFF

The solution to crowding is construction of another Abingdon elementary school -- not playing musical chairs with children attending other area elementaries, parents said last night at a Harford County hearing on school redistricting.

"If you move my kids now, you'll just be moving them again in another two years," Susan Milano, who has a child at Abingdon Elementary, told the school system's volunteer 27-member redistricting committee.

Like many of the 75 parents packing the library of Abingdon Elementary near Bel Air, Mrs. Milano said the area is growing so fast that any attempt to shuffle students -- and their portable classrooms -- between existing schools is a short-term solution.

Other parents, including Nila Martin who has two children at Abingdon Elementary, argued that countywide redistricting -- which the school board has said is planned -- makes community-by-community redistricting foolish.

Abingdon Elementary, which opened in 1992 with a capacity of 580, has nearly 700 students and nine portables, according to the school system. The other area elementaries, all at or near capacity, are the two-building William Paca/Old Post Road, Edgewood, Emmorton and William S. James.

The neighborhoods offered alternative plans that would move other people's children, but not their own. Parents argued vehemently that children from the same neighborhood should attend the same schools -- from kindergarten through 12th grade.

But some parents told the committee they saw redistricting as a chance to ensure that their children attend Bel Air Middle and High schools -- which are seen by some as more prestigious than Edgewood Middle and High.

The school system, however, has said repeatedly that assignments to secondary schools will be decided by geography -- not school districts.

That means students attending Abingdon, Edgewood and William Paca/Old Post Road elementaries will go to Edgewood Middle and Edgewood High -- no matter where they may be redistricted. Students at William S. James and Emmorton will go to the Bel Air middle and high schools.

The five elementaries and their 3,000 children are in the fastest-growing part of the county.

Land for a new Abingdon-area elementary is available in the Box Hill South development, but there is no date for development.

The committee has not indicated when it will present redistricting recommendations to the school board.

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