School board delays Mayo announcement

Members to respond tomorrow on how to handle busing appeals

March 16, 2000|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education has postponed until tomorrow an announcement on how it intends to handle appeals of a plan to bus Mayo Elementary School pupils to Annapolis Middle School for two years while a school is being built.

The temporary relocation has drawn intense criticism from Mayo parents since Superintendent Carol S. Parham announced the plan a month ago.

The board agreed to delay its response until today's deadline for appeals has passed, said board attorney P. Tyson Bennett, who met with the board in a closed session before last night's regular board meeting.

"It's not uncommon for appeals to be received on the last day," said Bennett, who noted that appeals can be filed within 30 days after Parham's announcement.

"Traditionally, when the board has multiple appeals, it will consolidate them for efficiency purposes," Bennett said.

Bennett said the board has three options when handling an appeal: schedule a public hearing and take testimony from both sides; refer the matter to a hearing examiner, who will hear testimony and make a recommendation to the board; or ask both sides to submit written testimony to the board.

Two appeals of the Mayo plan have been filed with the board -- one from Beverly Beach Community Association and another from six Mayo parents.

In their appeal, the Mayo parents say Parham and her staff failed to consider the "excessive time" it takes to bus their children to Annapolis. They say that the travel time of 45 minutes each way is too much for elementary pupils.

A long commute, the parents say, will eliminate after-school activities for their children and bring them home after dark for part of the year.

Separate wing

Under Parham's plan, classes for Mayo pupils would be held in a separate wing of Annapolis Middle while a new Mayo Elementary is built on the existing school site.

"We were hoping that Carol Parham would change the decision on her own, and she did not," said Robin Greulich, one of the Mayo parents leading the appeal effort.

The Mayo parents have hired Annapolis attorney Lynn Krause to handle their appeal and have collected about $1,800 for legal expenses, Greulich said.

She said Mayo parents were so upset with the planned move that many temporarily stopped volunteering at the school.

"They wanted to show the teachers what would happen if they went to Annapolis," she said.

Greulich said the parents have decided to resume volunteer activities that directly benefit children but they stopped fund-raising efforts.

"We had to put all our efforts into a legal appeal," she said.

Alternative suggested

Some Mayo residents have suggested an alternative to the Annapolis Middle plan.

The plan, proposed informally to Parham by Mayo parent Kerrie Flaherty, calls for the school to be built on an 8-acre site across the street from the old school on property owned by the Mayo Civic Association. After construction is completed, the association would take ownership of the old building and the land.

Flaherty said officials from the nearby St. Andrew the Fisherman Episcopal Church, which owns about 3 acres adjacent to the association parcel, is interested in donating some land.

"The kids get to stay where they are, and it would save demolition costs and relocation costs," said Flaherty, who told Parham of the alternative in a letter last week.

Parham asked Flaherty in a letter to send her letters of interest from the property owners, which Flaherty did this week.

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