Parham unveils relief plan for crowded schools She would shift Pasadena students between systems

November 27, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Relieving crowded county middle schools means shuttling students between two Pasadena high school feeder systems and shifting eighth-graders into Southern High School, under recommendations by Superintendent Carol S. Parham.

Parham released her proposals for boundary changes yesterday, and will present them to the school board at its meeting next Wednesday.

They cover three areas of the county: the Pasadena schools that feed into Northeast and Chesapeake high schools, the South County schools that feed into Southern Senior High, and the West County schools that feed into Meade Senior High.

Parham adopted many suggestions from community task forces on redistricting, but some of her ideas are unlikely to find support with the community groups.

In Pasadena, where parents have been wrestling with school attendance areas for a decade, the superintendent has proposed creating what would be the only split-feeder system in the county.

Students leaving Riviera Beach and Sunset elementaries now go on to a crowded George Fox Middle School, then to Northeast High. Parham is recommending that all Riviera Beach children and those Sunset children who would have to be bused to George Fox Middle attend Chesapeake Bay Middle School instead. The 270 students would still go to Northeast for high school.

The community panel wants the 270 to attend Chesapeake Bay Middle but to go on to Chesapeake High School, with the rest of their middle school classmates, as a short-term solution. They suggested an addition be built on George Fox as a long-term solution. The wing is not part of Parham's plan, nor is one proposed in next year's capital budget.

Parents feel the students should not be shifted between high school feeder systems -- separated from elementary school friends, then separated again from new middle school classmates.

"You want to minimize how much you are shuffling them back and forth," said panel member Bruce McGuiness.

But under the task force's plan, Chesapeake High would be overcrowded and Northeast High would have fewer than 1,000 students and would lose programs, especially upper-level ones, said principal Roy Skiles.

In South County, Parham recommended alleviating crowding at Southern Middle by moving the eighth grade into Southern Senior High, an option many parents find distressing.

"A lot of the feedback we got was that a lot of the parents who had eighth-grade daughters did not like them being pushed into a high school environment a year earlier," said Suzanne Solier, who headed a very divided South County community panel.

Parham's proposal would crowd Southern High in a few years, but principal Clifton Prince said he could make the plan work.

The community panel pursued redistricting a group of students into the South River High School feeder system instead, but that would only shift the crowding from one feeder system to another. The South County parents, like those in Pasadena, say construction will solve the problem. The school board has proposed an addition to Southern Middle, but planning money has not yet been approved in the county budget.

Also in the South County, Parham is proposing to move 63 children from Tracey's Elementary to the renovated and expanded Deale Elementary to relieve crowding.

Parham made no recommendation for redistricting Annapolis schools. The advisory committee was unable this fall to engineer a return to neighborhood schools that would retain some racial integration, not overcrowd two schools and not overwhelm a few schools with students who require extra help.

Yet many black parents in Annapolis have bitterly complained that some poor minority neighborhoods are at a disadvantage by having their children split between attending nearby elementary schools and being bused to schools several miles away.

Parham went along with the Meade Senior High feeder advisory group's suggestion for dividing the 10 elementary schools between 30-year-old MacArthur Middle and Meade Area Middle, scheduled to open next year. Harman, Manor View, Maryland City, Pershing Hill and West Meade Elementary would stay at MacArthur. Brock Bridge, Jessup, Meade Heights, Severn and Van Bokkelen would attend the new $24.4 million school.

She agreed with all but one of the panel's recommendations for adjusting elementary school boundaries. A small community of military families south of Reece Road that has about 50 children wanted to stay at Meade Heights Elementary. Parham recommended moving the community to Manor View Elementary.

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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