New homes not causing school crowdingA July 22 letter from...


July 31, 1996

New homes not causing school crowding

A July 22 letter from Robert Sellers accused the Baltimore County executive, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Homebuilders Association of ''deliberately misleading'' the citizens regarding the issue of school crowding. To support the argument, the writer noted that more than 19,000 new dwellings (houses and apartments) have been added to the county and then came to the conclusion that approximately 4,000 new elementary school students were generated from the newly constructed homes.

The facts are correct but the conclusion is flawed.

If all of the occupants of the 19,000 new dwellings came from outside the county, the conclusion would have had some validity, but that is far from the case. The vast majority of the people buying these new homes already live within the county. Many live within three miles of their new homes. A significant number even live within the same school district.

There is a presumption that all 19,000 new dwellings were built in overcrowded portions of the county, which would be precisely contrary to the intent of the existing moratorium on new home construction in overcrowded school districts.

A look at the schools that have experienced overcrowding will explain why new construction is not driving school attendance in Baltimore County. During the moratorium, Riderwood, Rogers Forge, Hillcrest and other schools in older neighborhoods experienced considerable overcrowding. But these schools are located in neighborhoods that have experienced little or no construction activity.

Instead, these neighborhoods have seen a repopulation of older houses by young families, many of whom have recently decided to have children.

It is precisely neighborhoods like these that have contributed to a countywide birth rate that has averaged about 10,000 per year between 1990 and 1995.

During the time-period in question, Baltimore County maintained building moratorium that prevented new construction in areas where schools were overcrowded. Even though the county denied building permits and directed growth to areas with adequate school capacity, enrollment in these schools continued grow. In 1990 the number of overcrowded schools was down to 18, but according to the Baltimore County Office of Planning only four had any significant residential construction activity.

No, no one has been misled, deliberately or otherwise. The solution must come from better use of existing assets, creativity and wiser spending of our school construction dollars. Fortunately, the Baltimore County Council is about to take a very hard and in-depth look at the problem and hopefully will come up with a solution that is based on fact and reason. Then we might have a fair if not perfect solution.

Stewart J. Greenebaum


The writer is a member of the Baltimore County Council School Facilities Task Force.

Police act against trivia, ignore real crime

My 13-year-old daughter was caught smoking a cigarette by a police officer. In the good old days, the officer would probably have explained to her that she was breaking a law and telephoned me so that I could take action.

Instead, the officer charged her with possession of tobacco, resulting in a date set for juvenile arbitration, and the possibility of a juvenile record.

While I agree that children should not be smoking, I feel the action was unnecessary.

The message here is that the government will discipline your child, so you don't have to, or because you are not capable. I neither want nor need this. If I did, I would have asked.

Perhaps we need to take a look at law enforcement priorities. As long as there are drugs in schools, drunk drivers behind the wheel and children being molested and abused, maybe the smaller things should be handled by parents when they can.

I have to question a system that cannot stay within a budget, yet continually wastes money.

What will it cost to have an arbitration hearing for this offense? It will cost me a half-day of work, which as a single parent I can scarcely afford.

It frightens me to think that my life can be disrupted and my child tried for something like this, when the police did not come to the scene when I called about my tires being cut. That is more serious than a child's indiscretion.

Maybe if we focus our energies on the larger issues society must deal with, eventually we'll have time to address the minor ones.

Mary Louise Glorioso


American arms kill Americans

Jennifer Washburn's July 23 Opinion Commentary article is eye-opening and shocking. She reports that during the past decade $42 billion worth of foreign arms sales has resulted in U.S. troops in Panama, Somalia, Iraq and Haiti "facing weapons either paid for or provided by their own government."

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