County schools need smaller classes, advocacy group says...

ARUNDEL DIGEST

April 30, 2002

County schools need smaller classes, advocacy group says

Thousands of Anne Arundel County schoolchildren are in classes that are too large for effective learning, according to a study by an education advocacy group that is fighting for more county money for the school system.

The study, by the Coalition for Balanced Excellence in Education, found that 346 classes in county middle schools have 32 or more pupils.

"I think things are worse in the classroom than we've ever known," said Terra Ziporyn Snider, chairwoman of CBEE. "Our concern is that classes are so large you can't have effective teaching."

The group analyzed data provided by the county school system. It found that Chesapeake Bay Middle School in Pasadena has the most large classes - 73 classes with 32 or more pupils, and 20 classes with 35 or more pupils.

The group is providing the information to the County Council and county executive, who this week will begin discussing the school system's budget for next year.

Interim Superintendent Kenneth P. Lawson has requested $3.1 million to hire 55 additional middle school teachers to keep the average class size under 30.

Lawyers seek to overturn man's murder convictions

Lawyers for a former National Security Agency worker sentenced to death for the killing of his ex-fiancee and her friend asked an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge to throw out the man's murder convictions yesterday.

Lawyers for Darris A. Ware said his defense team failed to raise numerous objections during his trial and did not ask the judge to explain points of law to the jury. Ware, 28, a former Navy seaman, was sentenced to death in 1999 after being convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of Betina "Kristi" Gentry, 18, and her friend Cynthia V. Allen, 22, on Dec. 30, 1993.

A jury convicted and sentenced Ware in a retrial that was ordered after the Maryland Court of Appeals erased a 1995 conviction, ruling that county prosecutors had withheld key information from the defense.

County to replace wells contaminated by Freon

Anne Arundel County officials have offered to replace 10 private wells in Millersville that were contaminated by Freon from a county landfill, a spokesman said yesterday.

Freon was discovered in the wells on Gambrills Road during routine tests last year. The amounts of the refrigerant in the wells are far below the danger level, but the county is willing to pay $600,000 to dig deeper wells to prevent problems, county spokesman Matt Diehl said.

Medical examiners seek identity of car fire victim

County police were trying yesterday to determine the identity of a person killed Sunday night when a car burst into flames after striking another car in Parole, authorities said.

The unidentified driver was so badly burned that the medical examiner's office will need to use dental records to establish an identity, police said. The car driven by the unidentified person, a two-door Honda registered to a Davidsonville man, was traveling west on Aris T. Allen Boulevard at 9:45 p.m., when it crossed the median near Riva Road and collided with a two-door Ford in the eastbound lanes. The Honda burst into flames with the driver inside, the police said.

The driver of the Ford, Matthew Carter Leach, 23, of Dunkirk, complained of pain in his chest and foot, and was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center. The cause of the accident was under investigation yesterday.

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