School board votes today on redistricting Plans would affect pupils in Annapolis, Pasadena

April 03, 1996|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,SUN STAFF

Annapolis schoolchildren might have to say good-bye to some of their friends next year if the county school board approves a plan to change enrollment boundaries at Annapolis and Bates middle schools.

"It's the natural inclination of most folks to want to stay where they are," said board member Maureen Carr York. "But we're also trying to maintain a balance in terms of students' backgrounds and the schools' racial makeup."

The school board is scheduled to vote today on two plans to redistrict several schools in the Annapolis and Pasadena areas. It also is expected to delay reopening Adams Park Elementary School for children in the Clay Street neighborhood.

One of the most controversial proposals would send some students from Rolling Knolls Elementary School to Annapolis Middle School instead of Bates Middle. It also would transfer some students from Bates to Annapolis, and vice versa, by the start of the next school year.

Some parents have fought the change, saying that it would hurt students scheduled to enter a highly praised alternative learning program in place at Bates. Half the Rolling Knolls students likely to participate in the program instead would to go Annapolis Middle School, which doesn't offer it.

But some school officials say the issues are more complex. Some parents might not want their children to attend Annapolis Middle School, which serves many children from the city's public housing developments, said Carlesa Finney, vice president of the Board of Education.

Ms. Finney said some parents from the Rolling Knolls area, which is largely white and middle class, might not want their children to attend Annapolis Middle School.

"Because of the perceived discipline problems and the perceived poor test scores, it would cause parents who are not in public housing to retreat to private schools rather than change and go to Annapolis Middle," she said.

Some parents dispute this characterization, arguing that they simply don't want their children's education to be disrupted by switching schools. And they say Bates and Annapolis have similar student populations, so the public housing issue is irrelevant.

"The demographics for the two schools are comparable," said Susan Amos, president of the Bates Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, who opposes losing students to Annapolis Middle School. "Bates has a very diverse population also."

The school board also is considering a measure that would change middle schools for some Pasadena-area sixth-graders in 1997. The proposal would send sixth-graders from four elementary schools in the northeastern portion of the county to Chesapeake Bay Middle School for a year.

After sixth grade, the same cluster of 600 to 700 students would be sent to George Fox Middle School for seventh and eighth grades. The transfers are to deal with projected overcrowding at George Fox.

School officials say that when it comes to redistricting, there are no easy answers. "Unfortunately, children do not come in nice little packages," said school board member Thomas Twombly. "You can't just move them around."

Pub Date: 4/03/96

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