Don't remap next year, Parham asks

13th high school, wider redistricting still being studied

Maybe later, officials say

Board president notes imbalances, questions stance

December 07, 2000|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

In a move questioned by the president of the county Board of Education, Superintendent Carol S. Parham recommended yesterday that no changes be made in school boundaries for the next academic year.

She made her recommendation despite crowded corridors in some schools and empty classrooms in others, but her deputies said big changes could be down the road.

It isn't the right year to be moving students, because the staff is studying whether there is a need for a 13th high school or whether to solve space concerns with a wider-reaching redistricting plan, said Thomas W. Rhoades, director of program planning for the school system.

"It's not in the system's best interest right now to do anything," he said.

Board President Paul G. Rudolph said he is concerned that recently expanded Fort Smallwood Elementary is half-empty while nearby Jacobsville Elementary is over capacity. "Yet there is no recommendation to do anything about it," he said.

Rhoades said there are plans in the works for the space at Fort Smallwood Elementary. The school system is looking to use the extra classrooms to start a program for severely disabled children who can't be served now in the public schools. The school district pays millions of dollars in private tuition to assure that they get the education the law requires.

Rhoades doesn't want Jacobsville students moved because of what he calls minimal crowding there.

There are 99 students at Jacobsville who do not live in the neighborhood but have been allowed to transfer to Fort Smallwood in Pasadena because they attend day-care centers nearby and it is convenient, Rhoades said. The superintendent wants that practice to stop, and the transfers phased out.

"It's not really fair to ask people who live in the Jacobsville area to go to other schools," he said, adding that Parham "feels an obligation to Jacobsville residents."

Crowding varies by school and by region of the county. The Arundel High School feeder system, for example, is near capacity, with the high school projected to be 200 seats over capacity in 10 years. The Annapolis High feeder system has 3,000 more seats than students to put in them.

In other business yesterday, board members got their first look at the proposed academic calendar for the 2001-2002 school year. The calendar is much like the current one, and this bothered Susie C. Jablinske, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.

She said she wanted an extra workday for teachers at the end of the school year to allow them to finish grading, fill out report cards and close their classrooms. She had hoped that a day during the school year could be substituted to provide the day in June - or that the board would pay teachers to add a day to their contract.

"That would be the ideal solution, but the funding potential for it to occur is not great," Jablinske said.

School board member Carlesa Finney said she wants to add holiday celebrations to the calendar.

To comply with state education rules, the calendar states that schools should devote a portion of the day to "appropriate exercises" around Columbus Day, Veterans Day and other basic federal holidays. She wants Black History Month, Women's History Month and Education Week placed on the list of required celebrations.

Georgianna Maszczenski, who heads the calendar committee, said she will have the group discuss Finney's suggestion before it comes back for a board vote in two weeks.

Jablinske said, "I do have a deep concern that if we're going to have [additional] language ... that we are inclusive. We have an increasingly larger number of Asians in this school district, as well as Hispanic students."

Finney agreed, saying, "We don't have to list every month ... but certainly we should be as inclusive as possible."

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