Parent-teacher-student coalition studies school-crowding problem


March 01, 1998|By Cynthia Kammann | Cynthia Kammann,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AT THE request of county schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham, a group of North County parent, teacher and student volunteers worked together for two months last fall to study the crowding problem at North County High School.

The committee, known as the North County Coalition, presented several recommendations to the superintendent in November. The coalition's recommendation for a flexible transfer policy as a partial, short-to-intermediate-term option to the crowding problem was on the agenda of the school board's redistricting hearing held last Monday evening at Arundel High School.

As described on the school board's hearing schedule, the flexible transfer policy would "permit out-of-area transfers for high school students in North County Senior High School to attend under-enrolled high schools in other areas of the county. Students will be responsible for their own transportation to that school. Students requesting the out-of-area transfer will graduate from the school to which they move."

Thomas Klimczyk, co-chairman of the coalition, spoke at the hearing in confirmation of the group's recommendations. Klimczyk also provided new evidence on the extent of the school's crowding.

"On Feb. 20, school board staff met at the high school to update NCHS's estimated future need for relocatable classrooms," he told the board. "Currently, the school has three locatables, or portable classrooms, that can hold 30 students each.

"Two more are planned for September 1998. By September 1999, it's estimated the school will be using a total of eight to 10 relocatables."

Klimczyk also reaffirmed the coalition recommendation that ultimately the only acceptable solution to the crowding at the 4-year-old school is renovation of the building to add space.

Recently, the school board voted to move the money for the first phase of the renovations -- the planning phase -- from the budget of fiscal year 2003 to that of fiscal year 1999, which begins July 1. This is subject to approval by the county executive and County Council. Public hearings are scheduled this spring.

On Thursday, North County Principal Patricia Gronkiewicz explained the need for two more relocatables this September: "One is to alleviate the potential overcrowding in the cafeteria by converting a nearby classroom to a lunchroom and using a relocatable to replace that classroom,. The other is to handle sheer enrollment increase."

Other stopgap measures the coalition recommended to the superintendent were hiring a full-time enrollment verifier to ensure residency requirements are being met for attendance at North County High and an extended school day schedule or split-session schedule to be implemented as enrollment increases.

Donna Schramek, a parent involved in the North County Equity schools project since the early 1980s, said that in her discussions with parents, "None of the options were acceptable except additional classrooms at North County High."

Gale Ebersole, PSTA president at the school, has been involved in North County feeder system schools for 13 years. Asked if she thought parents might use the proposed flexible transfer policy, she said, "If staggered sessions need to be implemented because of overcrowding, I think people might consider utilizing a transfer policy."

Brian Senter, coalition co-chairman, said he has heard parents speak on transfer-policy issue.

"In the face of split shifts, they would consider transferring their children to other schools if the option is made available." Senter said.

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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