River Hill count of pupils may hinder area development...

January 28, 2001

River Hill count of pupils may hinder area development

Predicting school enrollments is the key to one of suburbia's most vexing problems - building enough classrooms to keep parents and developers happy, without overdoing it.

Instead of having public satisfaction with laws limiting development near crowded schools, Howard County is in turmoil over the issue because of consistently faulty enrollment predictions in fast-growing areas such as River Hill, Columbia's newest village.

The discovery that school system predictions for enrollment at Pointers Run Elementary in River Hill in 2003 were off by more than 300 pupils triggered the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, which could force closure of the entire western county to development, starting in 2003.

State agrees to pay most of cost to widen U.S. 29

With morning commuter traffic backing up daily onto Interstate 70, Maryland highway officials have agreed to provide most of the money to widen U.S. 29 along three miles in Ellicott City in an effort to relieve the congestion.

The morning - and evening - bumper-to-bumper jams testify to the popularity of the $289 million Route 100 project, which provided a new freeway connecting Ellicott City to Interstate 95.

County Executive James N. Robey said inclusion of the money in the state transportation budget "means that relief is on the horizon for U.S. 29 commuters," though the General Assembly must approve the budget. If legislators give their approval, the state would provide $19.7 million, and Howard County would pay $4 million, for an 18-month project not expected to begin until 2003.

Parents campaign for 12th high school

There wasn't much room at the Maryland Board of Public Works hearing Wednesday when dozens of officials representing counties across the state gathered in Annapolis to ask for more money for school construction. But Howard County parents and community members planned to make themselves heard nonetheless.

A group of about 65 parents began a letter-writing campaign the week of Jan. 15 to members of the Board of Public Works, asking for support for a 12th high school in the county. The group hoped that the estimated hundreds of letters made a statement in their absence about the county's desperate need for more classroom space.

High court rejects appeal by former police officer

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Monday the appeal of a white veteran police officer who said Howard County officials violated his civil rights when they passed over his job application in favor of women and minority candidates.

Michael Matthews, who now is a civilian employee in the Montgomery County Police Department, said Howard County used unfair affirmative action practices to toss out applications from white, male job seekers in 1995.

Howard officials say it doesn't matter whether their hiring practices were discriminatory because Matthews wouldn't have been hired anyway: Fifty white male candidates scored better than Matthews in interviews.

Council members express anger over CA chief search

At a public forum Tuesday night marked by angry exchanges, one Columbia Council member called for postponing the search for a new Columbia Association president, and another said it should be called off altogether.

Black clergy and community leaders invited the council and the public to St. John Baptist Church to talk about alleged racism in the search for a new association president. About 55 residents and seven of the council's 10 members attended.

While many hoped the meeting would promote reconciliation, the two-hour session featured some of the most pointed public exchanges yet between two council members, Pearl Atkinson Stewart of Owen Brown and Cecilia Januszkiewicz of Long Reach. They disagreed over some of the particulars of the previous presidential search, which resulted in Deborah O. McCarty's hiring in July 1998.

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