Parents push for new high school to relieve crowding West County panel sets recommendations

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

West County needs another school by 2002 to relieve crowding, but until then, students who would attend Arundel High School should be allowed to go to any school that is not crowded, according to a group of parents from the Arundel High area.

The parents, who have been meeting since August to address school crowding, also say that school officials should move forward with a new high school and allow Crofton students to attend spacious South River High School.

"They've gotten away with it long enough, putting off building a high school," Gambrills resident James Holman said of the school system. "It's time they face up to it."

The Arundel Planning Committee, which represents families served by Arundel High, two middle schools and three elementary schools, voted to finalize their recommendations last night.

The group will present its recommendations next week to Superintendent Carol S. Parham, who will make recommendations to the school board.

With no relocation of students to other schools, Arundel High School would be 182 percent above capacity with 3,478 students by 2006, according to school system projections. At the same time, schools such as Annapolis High and South River High would have fewer students than their capacity.

With redistricting countywide to fill empty high school seats, the county would still have 664 more students than spaces by 2006.

Those numbers are proof, parents say, that the county will need a new high school soon.

But school system planners want to know if the population bulge will continue after 2006 enough to justify a $43 million high school, the estimated cost.

The school board this fall approved $75,000 for a high school study to examine population trends and projections to determine whether a new building is needed.

"Today I don't see justification for building a 13th high school in Anne Arundel County," school board member Vaughn L. Brown said yesterday before the meeting. "I think we need to wait for that study to see what our answer will be."

The study might show that with additions and modifications to existing buildings, the county might be able to accommodate the extra students without building a high school, Brown said.

"This thing has been studied to death," said committee Chairwoman Cynthia Johnston. "I can't say for sure what the school board and the superintendent will do. I hope that they would support the recommendations."

Under committee recommendations, about 200 students who attend Crofton Middle School would be sent next year to South River High School, which this year has just over half the 2,030 students for which it has space. But that move would be delayed a year if open-space classrooms at South River can't be enclosed in time, according to the recommendations.

Also next year, students and parents in the Arundel feeder system would be allowed to choose among high schools in the county that are not overcrowded, but they would have to provide their own transportation.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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