Board cancels speaker lottery at hearings on boundaries

3 meetings will focus on high school redistricting

November 15, 2001|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

In its latest effort to include more community input in the controversial boundary lines adjustment process, the Howard County school board has revised for the third time the way it will handle two public hearings on the topic.

High school boundary lines will be changed to fill the county's 11th high school, Reservoir, which will open next fall. The boundary changes could move 3,000 to 4,000 students to new or different schools.

To hear from more parents and community members, the board has decided to cancel a speakers' lottery and increase the number of speakers from each high school from five to seven.

The speakers now will be heard on a first-come, first-served basis.

The decision marks the third change to the hearing setup in the past month.

Superintendent John R. O'Rourke first decided to limit the number of speakers at the two hearings - Dec. 13 and Jan. 15 - by picking five names by random lottery. Parents and others opposed the lottery, saying their right to be heard was being squelched.

O'Rourke and board members then added a third hearing - which will start at 2 p.m. Dec. 17 - and will accommodate any speakers who sign up.

In a meeting last week, board members decided to increase community participation by forgoing the lottery system. Instead, the board will allow seven people from each high school - for a total of 70 - to sign up to speak at the two original hearings.

A lottery still will be held to determine in what order the high schools will be addressed. The board will draw school names and announce the order for the Dec. 13 hearing at a work session Dec. 6. Members will set the order for the Jan. 15 hearing at a work session Jan. 8.

Speakers must sign up in advance for all hearings. Sign-up for the Dec. 13 and Dec. 17 hearings will begin Nov. 26 at 8 a.m. Sign-up for the Jan. 15 hearing will begin Jan. 3 at 8 a.m. To sign up: 410-313-7197.

E-mail sign-up will not be permitted.

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