Options to end school crowding weighed Parent panel seeks cost of alternatives for Southern Middle

August 02, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Southern Middle School is so crowded that south county parents are willing to have school boundaries redrawn or their eighth-graders sent to Southern High School to ease the situation.

A panel of south county parents has asked county school officials to study the cost of both alternatives to help them decide which temporary solution is preferable.

The request stems from the results of a spring survey of parents from all the schools that feed into Southern High School in Harwood.

The survey showed support for redistricting -- which likely would send some students to Central Middle School in Edgewater -- and for creating what would be the county's only five-year high school.

Two other options -- split sessions and year-round school -- drew little support. None of the plans could be implemented before the 1997-1998 school year.

Southern Middle's crowding has been the subject of complaints for several years. Its capacity is 897 students, but 1,003 are expected when school opens at the end of this month. Enrollment is projected to climb steadily through 2005, when it is expected to reach 1,200 students, according to school enrollment statistics.

"Something has got to be done. The school is entirely too full of children," said parent Sara Sheckells.

Central Middle and Southern High have the capacity for more students.

A new middle school is planned in the area, but not until after 2000, and parents want relief sooner.

Because redistricting would involve Central Middle, parents from that school will be asked to join the panel, which is made up of Citizen Advisory Committees in the region.

The panel report said parents realize their top two choices will cost money. They expect to use the cost estimates they requested to make a final recommendation to Superintendent Carol S. Parham by November.

Redistricting recommendations are made in December, and the eight-member school board votes on them in the spring.

"We want to make sure that funds for the option chosen are included in next year's budget," the report states.

This spring, unexpectedly high transportation costs received late the planning process were a major contributor to the school board's failure to shift students from crowded George Fox Middle to Chesapeake Bay Middle.

Pub Date: 8/02/96

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