City schools' consultants to give closing, efficiency ideas

October 22, 2001|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

A new list of Baltimore schools that may be closed as part of an effort to make the system more efficient is expected to be announced at tomorrow's public school board meeting.

3D/International, independent consultants based in Texas, is scheduled to present recommendations concerning the city's 10 special-education schools, as well as Arundel Elementary in Cherry Hill, Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary in West Baltimore and Frankford Intermediate in Northeast Baltimore - three schools that were spared closure this year pending further review.

Faced with shrinking enrollment and buildings with empty classrooms, the school system closed seven of its 182 schools in June. Edgewood Elementary will close at the end of next school year and Lafayette Elementary in 2003 as part of the school system's "Making Room for Excellence" campaign. Potential uses for the buildings are being worked out.

Mark Smolarz, the system's chief operating officer, said staff also will present a comprehensive building utilization plan that incorporates elements of its academic reform blueprint - including smaller class sizes and adding more K-8 programs, which place children in kindergarten through the eighth grade all in one building.

Some pupils could be assigned to new schools in the process.

"We're just taking a look at our delivery of education, from an educational perspective and making sure that the facility utilization plan fits it," Smolarz said. "This is more than just school closings."

Mitchell Klein, an organizer with the Maryland branch of the nonprofit Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which filed an unsuccessful appeal over the last round of school closings, said he hopes education officials seek input from parents and community groups before they act.

"You don't want to pick fights with the community by leaving them out in the beginning," he said. "You want to reach out and say, `We're thinking about doing this, how can we work together and put together a process that's fair?'"

The board meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in Room 107 of the Dr. Alice G. Pinderhughes Administration Building, 200 E. North Ave.

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