Students to get choice of transferring from crowded high schools They must provide their own transportation to new destinations

March 05, 1998|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Come August, students at crowded North County and Arundel Senior High schools are likely to be allowed to pick another high school in the county to attend.

That unusual freedom is being prompted by such a press of bodies in the two schools -- in the next school year North County will be 180 students over capacity and Arundel 240 -- that if everyone stays in place there will be no room for them all to sit, do school work, eat lunch or hang up their coats.

With possible construction of a new high school in West Anne Arundel County a long way off, Superintendent Carol S. Parham proposed allowing students to transfer out of the crush and into less-crowded high schools if students arrange their own transportation.

Yesterday, the Anne Arundel County School Board voted in support of that solution, paving the way for it when the next school year begins in August.

But it isn't automatic. The board made a minor revision in the wording of Parham's proposal that will require a new public hearing. The superintendent referred to students transferring into "under-enrolled" county schools. The board voted to add a clause explaining that under-enrolled is a school at less than 90 percent of capacity. The board's lawyer, P. Tyson Bennett, urged a hearing as a legal precaution.

From 7 p.m. to 7: 30 p.m. March 18, before the board meeting at South River High School in Edgewater, the board will take public testimony on the wording change, then vote again. Board members implied that they are likely to approve the measure again.

Votes on the transfers were not unanimous. Board member Mike McNelly feared high school coaches would court the best athletes for their high schools. He voted against the North County plan and abstained on Arundel. "I can see some coaches drooling, waiting for this to go through," he said.

School board President Carlesa R. Finney voted against redistricting at both schools. "We still have neighborhood turf issues" that could create tensions between students who switch to a high school and the students who already go there, Finney said in explaining her opposition.

And, although the public seemed to support the plan at a hearing last month, Finney said, "I'm not convinced that the community was or ever will be in the forums we had totally represented."

Not every school in the county will be open to transferring students. Old Mill and Glen Burnie are at 90 percent capacity. Southern High School isn't included because it is housing eight-graders moved to relieve crowding at Southern Middle School.

The senior high students could move into are Severna Park, Annapolis, Meade, South River in Edgewater, Broadneck in Cape St. Claire, and Northeast or Chesapeake in Pasadena.

The board also voted, without dissent, to route about 800 students from Crofton Woods and Crofton Meadows Middle Schools to South River Senior instead of to Arundel Senior, where they would have been assigned when the 1998-1999 school year begins in August. Siblings will be exempt from that through August 2001.

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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