Baltimore County school officials said yesterday that all 540 pupils at Elmwood Elementary School, which suffered $1 million in damage in a fire last week, will be bused to the Rosedale Center until repairs can be completed.
Officials, speaking at a news conference, said the Rosedale Center, an alternative high school 3.7 miles from Elmwood, was the only building that could accommodate the entire student body. The 110 students at Rosedale, in the 8200 block of Old Philadelphia Road, will be bused to Cockeysville Middle School.
The changes will remain in effect until Jan. 2.
"We chose this option as a way to keep students close to their homes, to keep siblings together, and to preserve the concept of a community school," said Donald I. Mohler, the Northeast Area superintendent for the school system. "Rosedale was our only option."
School officials initially thought the early morning fire at Elmwood, in the 500 block of Dale Ave. in Overlea, had damaged only the wing containing pre-kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classrooms. Days after the blaze, they discovered smoke damage in 16 of the 24 remaining classrooms, said Clarence Stukes, director of facilities management for the school system.
Preliminary findings of a county Fire Department investigation indicate the blaze was caused by a malfunctioning ceiling fan being used by a private contractor removing asbestos from the school. A final report is due this week.
No one was injured in the blaze.
Elmwood Elementary and Cockeysville Middle School parents are being notified about the changes in letters sent yesterday. Parents of Rosedale students will be notified by telephone.
In his letter, Cockeysville Middle School Principal Philip W. Taylor tried to reassure parents who might be worried about their children attending classes with students with behavior problems.
"I want to personally assure you that Rosedale Center will be a separate, satellite school housed within eight classrooms," Taylor wrote. "[T]here will be no interaction between Rosedale students and our students."
Elmwood Principal Sharon Attaway said her 36 teachers and staff members are pleased that everyone will be in the same school.
"That way we can keep up the school's spirit," she said.
Baltimore County teachers returned to work yesterday to begin preparing for the school year, which begins Sept. 5. Rosedale teachers spent the day packing. Teachers from Elmwood Elementary reported to McCormick Elementary School.
Dale Grimes, a math teacher at Rosedale, said he learned about the changes in a telephone call from the principal Saturday.
"She's a real nice lady, but she started asking me how my summer was, and I knew something was up," Grimes said as he took down bulletin boards. "Instead of setting up, we are packing up. But that's the way it goes."