Board backs away from redistricting Goal is easing crowding at George Fox Middle

School 100 over capacity

Options include setting up school for 6th-graders only

April 18, 1996|By Andrea Siegel | Andrea Siegel,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County school board, which has been looking into redistricting in Pasadena yearly since 1991, voted against making any such plans for the area for the 1997-1998 academic year.

At issue was whether to create a school for sixth-graders within Chesapeake Bay Middle School to ease crowding at George Fox Middle School or to send Sunset Elementary students to Chesapeake Bay for middle school instead of to George Fox.

George Fox, with a capacity of about 980 students, is more than 100 over capacity, and more students arrive every year because of rapid development in the area. The board has been wrestling with ways to deal with crowding at Fox for five years, but, because of divisions among residents, the issue has not been resolved.

Last night, parents complained that too much of the information they needed to make a decision was unavailable until the 11th hour.

For example, two weeks ago school officials completed a study indicating that busing for a sixth-grade school would cost $374,000 a year. Busing the Sunset children would cost $73,000 a year. The high cost of busing sixth-graders led parents to believe that in a time of tight budgets, the sixth-grade-school plan would not be viable.

"The driving factor here should be the children. If you look at the sixth-grade plan and you can't stomach it, don't support plan No. 3," the Sunset Elementary plan, said Ed Wilson, a Fort Smallwood Elementary School parent.

Most parents vehemently opposed pulling Sunset children from their community for three years.

At several hearings, many parents favored the sixth-grade school. The idea probably isn't dead, because a task force of parents, administrators and school officials will be coming up with redistricting ideas over the next few months.

The creation of a task force to look into the best way to alleviate crowding at George Fox was proposed in December by Superintendent Carol S. Parham.

She said the school system and the community needed to take a year to look into the options and what they would cost so that they could come up with a redistricting plan that would be acceptable on the Pasadena peninsula.

The issue has been volatile largely because is is rare that students are taken from a school in their attendance area and sent for a period of years to a school in another feeder system.

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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