School panel urges redistricting be done on countywide...

March 19, 2000

School panel urges redistricting be done on countywide basis

The Howard County school system should redistrict countywide beginning in 2002 and freeze open enrollment for three years afterward, a school reform panel recommended in its final report Monday.

The proposals are among 70 by the Leadership Committee on School Equity, a 23-member group that had studied county schools since November. The panel's 47-page report covers issues including open enrollment, redistricting and the high percentage of new teachers assigned to focus schools, which get extra resources to combat low standardized test scores.

Speaking about the report to a standing-room-only crowd in the county government building in Ellicott City yesterday, Robey said: "I think this confirms what we all knew -- that there are inequities in Howard County education."

Baltimore man pleads guilty in killing of Elkridge woman

In a surprise move and against his defense attorney's advice, a Baltimore man accused of killing an Elkridge woman in 1998 pleaded guilty Monday to her murder in Howard County Circuit Court.

Ardale D. Tickles, 20, said he was sure he wanted to plead guilty to first-degree murder in the slaying of Sara J. Williamson Raras, a 35-year-old mother, in November 1998. The trial had been scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection.

Coming middle school crunch already sparking discord

When Howard County's incoming tide of elementary schoolchildren begins to subside in a few years, officials expect the next enrollment wave to hit middle schools -- creating issues that are already sparking disagreement.

One involves the same dilemma the county faces with elementary schools -- when and whether to redistrict children from crowded outlying districts to Columbia's schools, where enrollments are dropping.

With elementary school populations set to peak in 2004, county officials are starting to think about the next predicted peak -- 2007 in middle schools.

Lawn-care chemicals are not the only answer, public told

The president of one of the largest natural lawn care companies in the United States said Tuesday that alternatives are available for people concerned about using chemical pesticides on their lawns.

A group of residents in the Howard County community of Aspenwood recently initiated a petition because of concerns about the possible effects of herbicide spraying on their yards.

Philip E. Catron, president and chief executive officer of NaturaLawn of America, said several environmentally friendly products can be used to keep lawns attractive.

In addition to natural fertilizers and natural pest-control products on the market, such as WOW! Plus, Catron said household supplies such as Clorox and soap mixed with water can be used as pesticides.

Proposal for country inn prompts concerns in Savage

A plan to transform a historic home in Savage into a country inn has residents worried about the possible noise and traffic it might bring to their enclave.

Susan Betts, owner of Joshua Barney House, has applied for a special exception to convert the single-family, two-story brick home into an inn.

The dwelling, in the 7900 block of Savage-Guilford Road, was built about 1811 by Commodore Joshua Barney, a hero of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Howard County Planning Board recommended this week that the special exception be granted, and a Board of Appeals hearing on the issue has been scheduled for April 20.

Kindergartner suspended for knife, threats at school

A kindergartner who took a table knife to Worthington Elementary School in Ellicott City was suspended for four days after he threatened a classmate, and the parents of the victim worry that school officials do not do enough to prevent minor playground scuffles from escalating into violence.

Ken Segal, whose son was threatened March 3, said he believes conflict resolution should be taught in schools.

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