When families decided on Columbia's Pointers Run neighborhood as a great place to live - particularly because of the top-notch elementary school of the same name there - they were mostly thinking location, location, location.
These days, many of those same folks are thinking only numbers, numbers, numbers.
How many children have to be squeezed into Pointers Run Elementary School before someone will do something about the crowding?
The school's PTA officials called the meeting to alert parents, especially new ones, to the unusually tight fix the school has been in during recent years.
Although the building has original space for about 580 children - with additions, about 666 - the school had enrolled 1,126 children yesterday.
That's up more than 100 children from last year's high of 1,016 - and makes the elementary school's population larger than many of the county's middle schools and two of its high schools. And school administrators said it isn't presumptuous to expect more to enroll before school begins in two weeks.
Armed with overhead sheets, official documents and horror stories about children crammed into "found spaces" in the school, PTA representatives begged parents to get involved: volunteering at the school, lobbying for better enrollment projections and demanding something be done to ensure the numbers at the school don't continue to climb without some relief.
Pointers Run has one morning custodian, one guidance counselor, one reading specialist and one nurse, former PTA president Patrice Durham said. The school has to have back-to-school night over three evenings, and has children standing in color-coded lines in the cafeteria. Resources are used up too fast, moving children in, out and around the school is a monumental task and teacher planning and storage spaces are hot commodities.
Many of the PTA members expressed confusion about why a recent school-board funded revamping of the enrollment-projections process didn't take into account the Pointers Run parents' door-to-door census of children living within the school's boundaries.
Had the consultants hired by the school district used the PTA's fall count, school system officials would have suspected that at least 1,132 children would be enrolled at Pointers Run when school opens.
That's how many children the PTA members counted.
Instead, the consultants came up with 1,025 - 101 too few, so far.
The school district is currently revisiting the consultant's projections, admitting that the numbers for many of the schools are low. School officials say they'll have more accurate numbers soon.
The meeting was attended by school board Chairwoman Jane B. Schuchardt and member Virginia Charles; County Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, a western county Republican; Deputy Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin and the school district's Director of Elementary Schools Patricia Tidgewell.
PTA members and parents clamored last night for board members, county and school district officials to realize how vital accurate enrollment projections are.
Some parents asked whether so many children in a building designed for far fewer was safe in emergencies. School officials maintain the numbers still are well within fire department regulations.
Many parents demanded to know why townhouse are being built within Pointers Run.