Staff offers advice on full schools

Report recommends moves for 775 students to ease crowding

20-year outlook

Shifting all students from Crofton to S. River discouraged

August 27, 1999|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

County educators are suggesting moves for about 775 students and have recommended against shifting all Crofton students to South River High School in a preliminary redistricting report on handling school crowding over the next 20 years.

In the report released yesterday and scheduled to be presented at Wednesday's school board meeting in Annapolis, Superintendent Carol S. Parham's staff suggested few changes to her plan that included a 400-seat addition to North County High School and splitting huge Chesapeake Bay Middle School into two schools.

The 775 students would be redistricted to relieve crowding in the Arundel and Meade high school feeder systems.

Answering a question posed by the school board, Thomas W. Rhoades, director of school programming and planning, and his staff say in the report that shifting all Crofton students to South River High School is not the solution.

Such a shift, Rhoades said, would require an addition to South River High School to handle the nearly 2,600 students who would be attending by the 2008 school year -- when the student population at Arundel High would likely drop well below capacity, wasting space.

Also, a South River addition would cost about $10.7 million and lower the priority of several other projects on the fiscal 2001 budget.

Last year, the school board voted to shift some Crofton students from Arundel High to South River High. For years, parents have complained of crowded classrooms at Arundel and lobbied the board to build a high school -- what would be the 13th in the Arundel system -- in west county.

But Parham, her staff and the school board have put off that idea, and while they agree that it might be needed in the future, they are asking that another study be done in 2005 before they make a final decision.

Yesterday's staff report was in response to the Secondary Schools Feasibility Study done by an independent consultant and presented to the school board in March. The consultant projected that 23,700 students will be attending the existing 12 schools in 2007 -- an increase of 1,400 from 1997.

But enrollment also is expected to decline 10 years later to 21,800, according to the consultant's report.

Middle school enrollment is expected to follow the same pattern -- peaking at 19,110 by the 2007 school year, and declining to 19,050 in 2017.

If Parham and the board fail to address those findings, students in at least three high schools and two middle schools would attend classes in split shifts for as long as 10 years, according to the consultant.

The school board will review the staff's report during Wednesday's meeting and Parham will make her final redistricting recommendations to the school board in October. The board will hold public hearings on her plan before taking a final vote.

Other recommendations in the report include:

Relieving crowding at Odenton Elementary -- the most crowded elementary school in the county -- by moving those pupils who live west of the Maryland Rail Commuter train tracks to Meade Heights Elementary.

Under this plan, pupils from Meade Heights Elementary and the reassigned pupils from Odenton Elementary School would feed into MacArthur Middle School. Students from the original Meade Heights attendance area would go from MacArthur Middle to Meade High, while those in the area reassigned from Odenton Elementary would go from MacArthur Middle to Arundel High.

Having boundaries for the new Piney Orchard Elementary School include the Piney Orchard Planned Unit Development, Woodwardville, Tree Side Mobile Home Park and Odenton Trailer Park. The school would be assigned to the Arundel middle and high school feeder system.

Pub Date: 8/27/99

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