Night school plan would rotate sites

Burden to be shared by 50 county facilities

January 24, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

There was a time when the words "night school" made Catonsville High School parent Nancy Henderson's blood boil.

Henderson used to think the evening high school classes held at her son's campus were an unfair burden - well-worn textbooks and desks testified to the extra wear. Scheduling and parking for nighttime events could be a hassle.

Henderson's blood pressure dropped recently.

Starting in the fall of 2002, Catonsville will be off the hook, at least for another decade, thanks in part to a committee of parents and school administrators who have cobbled together a plan they say will shift the night school burden from four high schools to 50 middle and high school campuses countywide.

Only four high schools - Catonsville, Randallstown, Parkville and Dundalk - have evening classes for high school students who need to make up courses. Nineteen schools offer adult education classes organized by the Community College of Baltimore County.

Catonsville and Parkville have had evening classes the longest - 36 years at Catonsville and 33 years at Parkville - far too long, according to Henderson and other parents who complained to the Board of Education.

Board members received copies of the committee's report at a meeting last night and seemed pleased with the solutions it offered, even though they could cost more money.

In the works is a project to catalog parking and classroom offerings at all secondary campuses to get a better idea of how many students and what kind of programs each campus can handle, said Dale R. Rauenzahn, director of student services and alternative programs.

Starting in 2002, schools with evening classes will be eligible for a well-deserved break every decade, he said. School administrators will meet once every eight years to decide what schools will house the programs for the upcoming 10-year cycle. Schools that wish to keep nighttime classes for another decade will not be forced to give them up.

Committee members also recommended that schools with evening classes get extra resources, including help for janitorial staffs, to keep buildings from looking shabby, said Rauenzahn. They've asked that some schools receive extra funding to hire an assistant principal to oversee nighttime class schedules and staff. They believe teachers who teach evening classes should be better paid.

"What we found when we actually looked at the issue was something that was bigger than the evening high school program," said Meg O'Hare, chairwoman of the Northeast Area Educational Advisory Council and a committee member. "What we found is that alternative education programs are not getting the funding they should, especially considering they deal with some of the neediest students we have."

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