Meade area parents don't mesh on school boundaries Thursday night meeting to offer another chance

February 25, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

West County parents will have one more chance this week to say where they think their children should attend elementary, middle and high school.

Groups of parents began meeting last year to come up with their version of new school boundaries to accompany the opening this fall of a new middle school for the Fort Meade area.

There's been nothing straightforward about the process since then. Some parents have made clear they don't want their children in Meade area schools at all.

Here are the threads of the complicated debate:

Parents on a redistricting task force had to decide which students would attend the new middle school and which students would go to 30-year-old MacArthur Middle School, both on Fort Meade.

Parents of Severn Elementary students oppose a 1995 board decision that would shift their children to the Meade area middle and high schools from Old Mill middle and high schools in 1998.

Parents of children who live in Seven Oaks oppose the same 1995 board decision that would shift their children from an elementary school that would funnel them into Arundel middle and high schools to an elementary school that would send them to the Meade area schools.

And in an appeal to the state board of education filed by the Seven Oaks parents, an administrative law judge recently said the school board's 1995 redistricting plan is illegal.

The redistricting plan will be discussed at 6: 30 p.m. Thursday at Meade High School.

Severn Elementary parents hope the judge's recommendation that the state board overturn the 1995 redistricting plan will be their key out of the Meade area schools.

"If the redistricting is illegal for Seven Oaks, it's got to be illegal for all the jurisdictions," said Simeon Georgiou, chairman of the Severn Elementary School Citizens Advisory Committee.

Severn parents don't want their children to be bounced to different feeder systems, especially if a population boom in West County means another round of redistricting later, Georgiou said.

But the task force of parents that met for several months last year to come up with a redistricting proposal worked on the assumption that both the Severn Elementary students and the children from Seven Oaks would be attending Meade area schools this fall, said Vaughn Brown, who led the task force.

"We are ready to have those communities join us," Brown said. "If they don't come, I guess we will sit back and enjoy more spacious schools."

The absence of Severn Elementary from the Meade area schools would have a "significant impact" on the division of schools between MacArthur and the new middle school, Brown said.

The group tried to balance factors such as high and low test

scores; varying proportions of students receiving free or reduced lunch; and schools with transient and stable populations, Brown said.

The task force recommended, and Superintendent Carol S. Parham agreed, that students from Harman, Manor View, Maryland City, Pershing Hill and West Meade elementary schools should continue to attend MacArthur. Students from Brock Bridge, Jessup, Meade Heights, Severn and Van Bokkelen elementary schools would attend the new middle school, under the proposal.

The plan should make for a "happy mix" of students at each school, said Jeanne Mignon, who led the delegation of Brock Bridge Elementary School parents on the task force.

Pub Date: 2/25/97

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