School remap plan OK'd

Board seeks to ease crowding at Odenton

Parham at meeting

April 06, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A redistricting plan to relieve crowding at Odenton Elementary was approved yesterday by the county school board, which also established boundaries for a new West County elementary.

The meeting was attended by schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham, who made her first public comment about a racially charged death threat mailed to her two weeks ago.

Board members also discussed speeding plans to build a Seven Oaks elementary school, which is expected to receive planning and design money in 2006, according to Thomas Rhoades, who heads county schools redistricting. The board will discuss budget matters for capital projects later this year.

The Odenton redistricting plan was approved after more than a dozen hearings on a Parham proposal calling for pupils to be switched in and out of their neighborhood schools. The board voted 5-1 to approve an option differing slightly from the superintendent's recommendation.

Children living in Seven Oaks who attend crowded Odenton Elementary will be moved to Meade Heights Elementary and progress to MacArthur Middle.

Meade Heights and MacArthur are in the Meade High feeder system outside the Seven Oaks neighborhood. But the Seven Oaks children will finish their public school education at Arundel High, which is part of Odenton's feeder system.

Pupils who live in the Meade Heights Elementary area will continue on their ordinary feeder track to attend Meade High under the approved plan, which takes effect for the 2000-2001 school year.

"I think they had to do something -- but I think what they voted to do doesn't solve the problem, it moves it," said Lynn Miller, a Seven Oaks resident with a child at Odenton Elementary.

"It moves students from one unacceptable situation to another. Meade Heights will be overcrowded," she said. "By the time a new Seven Oaks [elementary] is built, it's going to be in the same situation as Odenton is now."

According to the school system's enrollment figures, without the boundary realignments, Odenton Elementary -- which has six portable classrooms and one restroom trailer -- would be more than 300 pupils overcapacity in four years. Meade Heights Elementary would be underenrolled by 235.

"The board was trying to find a place where the strain would be less," Rhoades said of Meade Heights. "They do want to build their [Seven Oaks] school as soon as possible."

In other action, the board established boundaries for the new Piney Orchard Elementary, also in West County, which is scheduled to open in August. The area includes Piney Orchard, Woodwardville, the Tree Side Mobile Home Park and Odenton Trailer Park. Its feeder system includes Arundel Middle and Arundel High.

Parham has been under police guard since March 21, shortly after she received a mailed threat relating to her plan to bus students from Mayo Elementary to Annapolis while a school is built. She said she was "overwhelmed" by expressions of concern and asked "that we all continue to pray for our children and our community."

The superintendent thanked the public for the cards and phone calls she has received, and for organizations that have offered reward money totaling more than $21,000 to help identify the source of the threatening letter.

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