Severn Elementary parents speak out Contingent wants school to remain Old Mill feeder

November 21, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A contingent of Severn Elementary School parents asked the county school board last night to reconsider a 2-year-old decision to take the school out of the Old Mill feeder system and place it in the Meade cluster, which they view as less desirable.

Not only were the parents unsuccessful in winning sympathy from the board, but they alienated several board members by saying they want their children to attend middle and high schools that have fewer minority, poor and transient students than the Meade area schools have.

"We like going to a school with a higher socioeconomic [level] and a little less minority population than Severn Elementary has," said Marie Delaney, a parent of three.

Delaney, who is white, estimated the school's students are nearly 40 percent minority.

The Meade and Annapolis clusters have the highest percentages of minority students in the county. The Meade cluster includes an elementary school where most all of the students receive free or reduced-price lunches and the Army's Fort Meade, which supplies transient students.

"Our neighborhood is already a little transient. This will make it more so," Delaney said.

Severn is scheduled to move into the Meade cluster in September 1998. It now is in the Old Mill feeder system.

Delaney's remarks were received with groans from many blacks and whites attending the meeting.

Superintendent Carol S. Parham, who is black, said, "I value all of our students, regardless of their racial background. The quality of our schools does not depend on the racial background of our students. I object" to that sentiment, Parham told Delaney.

Michael McNelly, a board member, said he "was offended by [Delaney's] comments." He said the board has nothing to do with housing patterns.

L "I'm sorry. I did not mean to offend anybody," Delaney said.

The issue of where Severn Elementary graduates will attend middle and high school is gaining momentum because the Meade feeder system is likely to be redistricted next year, and it will include Severn Elementary.

Other parents said the heart of the issue is that if the western county grows as expected, school attendance areas for Meade, Old Mill and Arundel schools will have to be changed in five years, they said.

"My son is in first grade," said Fred Froelich. "He will be switched and he will be switched again because they will be crowded again."

Parham will make redistricting recommendations to the school board at its December meeting, and the board will decide in January which proposals it wants to hold public hearings on.

Pub Date: 11/21/96

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