Report on school inequity will be made public today

Howard County seeks to close gap between older, newer schools

March 13, 2000|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

After four months of meetings, interviews and research, a committee created to determine why some Howard County schools have lagging student performance, older resources and image problems will present its findings today.

The 23-member Leadership Committee on School Equity will release a 47-page report with observations and recommendations to Superintendent Michael E. Hickey and County Executive James N. Robey at the group's last official meeting, which will be at 10 a.m. in the Tyson Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City.

Robey and Hickey created the committee in November to find answers to public concerns about inequities between the county's older and newer schools.

The group also was charged with finding why some older schools have lost large numbers of white students and have higher numbers of children from poor families than newer schools.

Community and official interest in school equity issues was sparked when several families from the Clemens Crossing neighborhood of Columbia raised money to hire a bus to take schoolchildren to the new Lime Kiln Middle School instead of having them attend their neighborhood school, Wilde Lake Middle, which they deemed inferior. The committee was composed of parents, community members, teachers and other county officials, representing a range of perspectives.

The report, "No Child Left Behind," has 70 recommendations, said committee co-chair Mary Ellen Duncan, who is president of Howard Community College.

None of the recommendations is a quick fix, she said.

"Perhaps when we began, we thought we could give fairly simple answers," Duncan said. "But the more you study things, the more you find out how complex they are."

Committee members divided themselves into four subcommittees: Factors Affecting Equity; Resources and Programs; Staffing; and Accountability.

Each subcommittee studied its topic area extensively, Duncan said.

"They did a tremendous amount of research," she said.

Duncan would not say specifically what the committees discovered but said nothing was really surprising.

"I don't think there's anything shocking here," Duncan said. "I think we all came into this knowing that we have something good and also that we want something better. But I think that we certainly recognize that there's need for improvement. There are real issues that need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed quickly."

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