Board names `open' schools

Pupils can switch to some facilities outside their district

April 23, 1999|By Erika D. Peterman | Erika D. Peterman,SUN STAFF

Howard County school board members decided yesterday which schools will be eligible for open enrollment next school year, and they removed the "protected" status of Wilde Lake Middle School, allowing pupils assigned there to attend a different middle school.

The board dismissed a top administrator's warning that removing the middle school's protected status could result in an exodus of pupils.

Open enrollment allows pupils to attend under-capacity schools outside their district. Schools such as Wilde Lake Middle are protected because of their small populations, preventing parents from transferring their children to another Howard County public school.

FOR THE RECORD - In Friday's Howard County edition of The Sun, an article incorrectly reported that school board member Sandra H. French voted to lengthen the school year to make up for additional snow days. That vote was cast by board Chairwoman Karen B. Campbell. Also, Lime Kiln Middle School will not have protected status for open enrollment next year. The Sun regrets the errors.

Schools are closed to open enrollment based on factors such as whether they meet or exceed 95 percent capacity and whether they are expected to be crowded in the near future.

Based on those factors and teacher-student ratios, these schools may receive open-enrollment pupils next year:

Elementary schools able to receive open-enrollment kindergarten pupils: Atholton, Bollman Bridge, Bryant Woods, Centennial Lane, Clarksville, Dasher Green, Deep Run, Elkridge, Gorman Crossing, Guilford, Jeffers Hill, Laurel Woods, Longfellow, Manor Woods, Northfield, Phelps Luck, Stevens Forest, Swansfield, Talbott Springs, Thunder Hill, Waterloo, Waverly and West Friendship.

Elementary schools able to receive open-enrollment pupils in grades one through five: Gorman Crossing, Jeffers Hill, Laurel Woods, Waverly and West Friendship.

Middle schools: Burleigh Manor, Ellicott Mills at Bonnie Branch, Line Kiln, Murray Hill and Owen Brown.

High schools: Hammond and Oakland Mills.

Lime Kiln `protected'

Only the new Lime Kiln Middle School will have protected status next year. New schools usually open with small student populations.

The board voted unanimously to remove Wilde Lake Middle School's protected status, saying parents who are critical of the school and want to place their children elsewhere should be allowed to do so. But Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin warned that the school's population could fall significantly, and the problem would have to be solved by redistricting.

"It's going to be difficult to convince the population that you're bringing in [through redistricting] that they should come in," Kalin said. "Do you want to be in that position? If the answer is no, you may want to consider leaving it protected for another year."

Taking the risk

Karen B. Campbell, chairwoman of the board, said she was willing to take that risk.

"I'm also willing to allow the parents who have had the crutch of being in a protected school to exercise their free will to leave," she said. "I don't believe there will be such an exodus from the school."

Board member Sandra H. French agreed, saying that Wilde Lake Middle School has been unfairly criticized by some.

"I really do believe that Wilde Lake Middle School has been unfairly berated, much like Wilde Lake High School was when we did the redistricting," French said. "I have a great deal of faith in the [faculty] there."

The school board also voted to make Presidents Day the first snow makeup day of the school year next year rather than the fourth.

Traditionally, three days are added to the end of the school year to make up for snow days, and Presidents Day becomes the fourth makeup day, if needed.

Also, the board voted 3-2 to lengthen the school year to make up for additional snow days rather than reducing spring break.

Stephen C. Bounds, vice chairman of the board, and French voted against the measure.

Pub Date: 4/23/99

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