Best move for Mayo

Arundel: Elementary school's temporary relocation to Annapolis is reasonable, responsible.

February 29, 2000

A PLAN that would relocate the Mayo Elementary School population to Annapolis Middle School while a new Mayo gets built is a sensible idea that's sensitive to students' and taxpayers' concerns.

There would be inconveniences, just as there were when four other schools used Annapolis Middle as their temporary homes in recent years.

Annapolis Middle is about 20 minutes from Mayo, so the daily trip would be longer. But once students, teachers and administrators arrive at Annapolis, they would have their own space. Mayo Elementary would have its own wing in the middle school. Elementary students would be separate from older children under the plan chosen by School Superintendent Carol S. Parham.

Mayo parents strongly wanted Ms. Parham to choose another option for their children: housing students at nearby Central Elementary School for the two years it will take for their new building to rise. Of course, any parent would prefer proximity, but that would require the county to place portable classrooms at Central at an estimated cost of $450,000. And the school system would have to make other costly improvements, including adding bathrooms and parking.

Dr. Parham would have made parents feel better had she relocated the Mayo students to Central, but that option would have bloated costs. Residents want low taxes. Anne Arundel County citizens voted eight years ago to limit the amount of property tax revenue the county can collect.

The measure forces thrift. When the county holds down spending, it has to hold down school spending. Education takes up roughly half the county's budget. Under these conditions, it would have been fiscally irresponsible for Dr. Parham to take the Central alternative.

These students can handle the relatively modest inconvenience for two years, especially when they know a new school awaits them.

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