Parents make gains at school

Rooms to be enlarged, state to review issues at Randallstown

Ruppersberger skips meeting

June 01, 2000|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Parents of students who attend Randallstown Elementary School got some good news yesterday: Classrooms will be made larger and will be wired for computers. But they didn't get what they say is needed: a new school.

The parents, some of whom kept their children out of school last month to protest conditions at the county's oldest school building, met with state and Baltimore County officials and architects yesterday.

But they didn't get to talk to County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who they say holds a wallet fat enough with taxpayer money to replace a schoolhouse that was built in 1908 and still has cloakrooms in every classroom.

"I don't know what Dutch cares about right now, but he certainly doesn't care about this part of the county," said PTA member Ellis Barksdale regarding Ruppersberger's no-show.

PTA President Donya M. Douglas said her group sent Ruppersberger an invitation to the meeting by certified mail about a week ago. Members thought his staff knew the date and time of the meeting when it was announced a month ago, she said.

"What bothers me most is we decided to have this meeting a month ago and then we get a call the day before that he is out of town," said Douglas.

Ruppersberger is on vacation but he is aware of the situation at Randallstown, said his spokeswoman, Elise Armacost. "We looked at both options, and it was less expensive to renovate," she said. "It's a cost issue in terms of why we went with a renovation instead of a new school."

Parents had hoped that Ruppersberger would attend the meeting yesterday, which included top school officials and Yale Stenzler, executive director of Maryland's Interagency Committee on School Construction.

Stenzler met with Randallstown parents at the behest of state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who brokered an 11th-hour deal with parents last monthwhen they pulled their children out of school during state-required testing as part of a protest.

State officials will review the county's renovation and addition plan for Randallstown to determine whether it meets the needs of a "21st century school," said Stenzler. They will also examine a list of concerns from parents, including worries that much of the renovation work, including asbestos removal, will be done during the school year. "We'll reply with a written report in about two weeks," Stenzler said.

After the meeting, which was not open to the public, Douglas and Barksdale said they were pleased to hear school officials say they would remove the cloakrooms from classrooms and that they would wire every classroom for five computers -- four for students and one for the teacher.

Parents have complained for years that Randallstown should be rebuilt, not renovated. They say the school, at Liberty and McDonogh roads, is crowded and has exposed heating pipes, peeling paint, asbestos tiles, cracked windows and water damage. School officials offered a $6.6 million plan to renovate the school and build a new cafeteria-auditorium, but parents were not happy.

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