Parents cast votes on school borders

New elementary means Balto. County system must reshuffle pupils

January 23, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Eager to vote on boundaries that will determine which Baltimore County students will attend a sparkling new elementary school campus in New Town set to open this fall, about 400 parents showed up to vote on the issue last night at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School.

At issue were three boundary scenarios, the results of several months of work by a committee of parents, teachers and administrators.

"It really wasn't that tough to decide," said Michael Franklin, vice president of the Baltimore County PTA council and boundary committee co-chairman. "We threw out three scenarios, and it was pretty much unanimous that that was the choice to make."

Results of the vote, which served to gauge public opinion on the matter, were not available late last night. School officials plan to present the winning plan to the Board of Education next month. A final vote by the board will taken in March.

Many parents want their children to attend New Town Elementary because they say campuses in northwest county are crowded and, in some cases, outdated.

Randallstown and Owings Mills are two of the county's fastest-growing neighborhoods in terms of new home construction. Many young families are also buying older houses along the Liberty Road corridor.

A surge of school-age children in the area has sparked a strong grass-roots push for more school construction. But school officials say they will wait to see next year's enrollment numbers before deciding whether to build more schools.

"That will be an entirely separate process," said Donna Flynn, northwest area superintendent, who has met seven times with the boundary committee since October. Six options were presented to the group at a November meeting. Last night, three somewhat similar boundary possibilities were discussed. Many of the people who attended the meeting have children who currently attend Church Lane, Deer Park, Hernwood, Milbrook, Owings Mills, Randallstown and Winand elementary schools.

All of those schools, except Milbrook, are expected to be affected by New Town's opening, regardless of which option gets the most votes.

Deer Park could lose as many as 175 pupils to New Town. Owings Mills could lose 163.

When the reshuffling is finished, five of the seven schools should be at or below capacity limits. That could reduce class sizes, free up much-needed classroom space and rid some schools of trailers now used for classrooms.

"If you see kids walk out to the trailers in the winter, they don't have their jackets, there's no security and someone could walk in at any time," said Dariette Ballard, a mother with children at Winand Elementary School.

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