Residents lobby board to keep children in system for Arundel High School Piney Orchard parents say Meade is too far

November 20, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Although construction of Piney Orchard Elementary School won't start for about a year, parents have begun to lobby the school board to keep their children in the Arundel High School feeder system even though the school is crowded.

About 40 residents of the west county community showed up unexpectedly at Wednesday's school board meeting to tell the eight members that they do not want their children to attend Meade Senior High School after the elementary school is built.

"Geographically, Arundel is closer," said Matt Finley, chairman of the community's education committee. "And there is a fear that they would put us in the Meade system because Arundel High School is overcrowded."

High school students who live in Piney Orchard attend Arundel. In March, because enrollment figures showed that Arundel would be 240 students over capacity, the school board voted to allow Crofton-area students to transfer to other high schools that are less than 90 percent full.

Finley, an Arundel graduate, told the board during the public participation portion of the meeting that Arundel is only three miles from the farthest point in Piney Orchard while Meade, on the grounds of Fort Meade, is eight miles away.

Carlesa Finney, the school board president, told Finley that the board will not consider which high school Piney Orchard teen-agers will go to until next year because the school will not open until 2000. She would not let board members ask Finley questions, saying the proper time to debate the issue is during redistricting hearings next year.

Finley told the board he would like to meet with members before that to discuss the community's concerns and recommendations.

School board members "shaved off a piece to the east of the school, Crofton," Finley said after the meeting. "And the only place to shave from attendance is to the west. That should happen first before we get moved."

But a piece from the west would be Seven Oaks, a racially mixed community where parents successfully sued the county in 1995 to keep their children from being shifted from the majority-white Arundel feeder system to the more heavily minority Meade High School system.

"This is Son of Seven Oaks, that's for sure," said board member Thomas Florestano after the meeting.

Another factor is the board's plan to build a high school in west county. The board has hired a consultant to recommend a location for that school, which is planned to ease the crowding at Arundel. The board will talk with the consultants during its regular meeting Dec. 16.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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