Parents press fight for new high school Crowding: Without changes or redistricting, projections indicate that by 2006, Arundel Senior High will have twice the number of students it was built for.

October 07, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

A new West County high school is the only solution to projected crowding at Arundel and other county high schools, some parents in the Arundel feeder system say.

They note that projections call for 664 more students than seats in the county high schools by 2006 and that without redistricting, Arundel High School in Gambrills will have nearly twice as many students as the 1,908 it was built for.

Other schools, such as South River Senior High, are projected to remain under capacity.

Superintendent Carol S. Parham and other school officials aren't so sure the school population increase will last long enough to justify a $43 million building.

For the first time in at least five years, the school system's long-range capital plan makes no mention of a West County high school. Instead, the school board approved last week a capital budget that includes $75,000 for a "high school study" that will examine population trends and projections.

Thomas W. Rhoades, director of program planning for county schools, called the study a "wise choice."

"If a high school is necessary, the feasibility study will point that out," he said.

Many parents in the Arundel Senior High feeder system say they are tired of studies. They have been meeting since August as the Arundel Planning Committee to look at a number of options to ease the crowding.

Other possibilities

A new high school is on their list, but so are other possibilities: Sending students from the Arundel feeder system to under-capacity South River High School in Edgewater.

Redistricting students to several other high schools to fill empty seats in those schools.

Turning Arundel Middle School into an annex of Arundel Senior High and building a new middle school.

Splitting Arundel Senior High into two sessions and annexing Arundel Middle, while sending Arundel Middle students to Crofton Middle School in split sessions at that school.

Allowing parents to send their children to any other high school in the county that is below capacity, instead of sending them to a crowded Arundel Senior High.

The committee will submit its recommendations for short-term and long-term solutions to Parham by mid-November, said Chairwoman Cynthia Johnston.

Short-term changes to alleviate crowding should be implemented by the fall of 1999, Johnston said. That is the year Arundel Senior High is projected to reach 2,350 students, overwhelming the hallways and cafeteria, Principal William T. Myers said.

Options such as redistricting don't appeal to some residents. Donna Anastasi researched several school systems before moving to Four Seasons Estates three years ago from Prince George's County so that her son could attend Arundel Senior High.

"It was never once mentioned to me that the school was overcrowded," said Anastasi. She said a new high school seems to her to be the best solution, adding, "They don't need any more surveys. They need to walk in the school and see the kids."

Mixed reviews

Students at Arundel Senior High gave the proposed solutions to crowding mixed reviews.

Waiting in line for a bagel in the cafeteria yesterday, freshman Erin Mest, 14, said she liked the idea of a new high school, although it probably would not affect her, but she opposed split sessions. She said crowding at the school hasn't become critical.

"It's crowded in the hallways, but it's not like I'm late to class," said the Crofton resident. "I'm still getting a quality education."

Study seen as helping

The high school feasibility study will help school planners determine whether a "bulge" in the number of students will continue much beyond 2006, Rhoades said.

In July, the county Office of Planning and Code Enforcement stopped approving waivers for subdivisions in the Arundel Senior High feeder system because of crowding, Steve Cover, PACE director.

Pub Date: 10/07/97

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