Parents disagree on school districts 150 attend hearing on redrawing lines to manage crowding

February 28, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Parents on both sides of the proposed redistricting of Fort Meade area schools clashed last night at a public hearing.

At least 150 people attended the hearing at Meade High School, one of several meetings board members are holding in each feeder system as they consider redistricting to manage crowded schools. A feeder system is the group of elementary and middle schools that funnels students into a high school.

At the hearing, some parents defended the quality of the elementary and middle schools that feed into Meade High School.

Other parents pleaded with school board members to let their children stay in the feeder systems for Old Mill or Arundel high schools instead of shifting them into the Meade system.

"I will stay in the Arundel school system; I will sell my house and stay," said Hope Lane, who moved into a house in Seven Oaks two weeks ago.

Lane said she chose the Seven Oaks home over another she liked better in Severn because she wanted her three children to attend Odenton Elementary School instead of the schools in the Fort Meade area. But a 1995 school board decision would send her children and others from Seven Oaks to Meade Heights Elementary School, which is under construction.

Sevens Oaks appealed to the State Board of Education, and this month an administrative law judge found the county's 1995 redistricting plan to be illegal -- because the county board changed a policy in the middle of the planning process -- and recommended that the plan be overturned.

The state board has not ruled whether to overturn the county's 1995 redistricting plan. But parents from Seven Oaks neighborhood and Severn Elementary School are counting on the administrative law judge's recommendation to keep their children out of the Meade system.

Nearly 100 parents and some students from Severn waved red and white school pennants as they protested the plan that would shift the students out of the Old Mill feeder system.

Jeanne Mignon, parent of a Brock Bridge fourth-grader and a sophomore at Meade, told the Severn and Seven Oaks parents to change their attitude.

"Some of you are going to end up here whether you like it or not, so roll up your sleeves," she said. "When you all say that your kid can't be with my daughter or my son, and you can't roll up your sleeves and make [the schools] better, then we better start closing these schools."

Steven H. White Jr., the student member of the school board, received a standing ovation for his defense of Meade High and admonishment of parents and students. White, a senior, said he turned down a scholarship to a private school in Baltimore to attend Meade.

"High school is what you -- parents and students -- make of it," he said. "Dad, thank you, we did make the right decision in coming to Meade."

Parents on a redistricting task force met for several weeks last year to come up with their version of school boundaries to accommodate the opening this fall of a second middle school in the Fort Meade area. Their proposal also included some changes to elementary school boundaries.

They assumed in their deliberations that students from Severn and Seven Oaks would be shifted into the Meade feeder system.

The board will vote on the new boundaries in April.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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