Edmondson Heights Elementary PTA seeks relief for crowding at school in Woodlawn

Parents upset that library was converted for classes

January 06, 2003|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

Woodlawn parents want more classroom space provided at crowded Edmondson Heights Elementary School, which has had to convert its art and music rooms and library into classrooms.

The parents want relief so badly that PTA President Lee E. Jay Jr. has asked for the immediate installation of temporary classrooms.

In addition to the temporary classrooms, which are housed in trailers that typically are criticized as poor environments for learning, the parents are calling for the construction of a wing.

"I would really like to see the school have space for a music room, an art room and have the library back," said Yvonne Nelson, PTA vice president.

Edmondson Heights Elementary enrolls 740 pupils, which is 60 more than its capacity. Richard M. Milbourne, who oversees schools in the southwestern part of the county, said officials are looking into installing more portable classrooms on the grounds of the school.

The demands join a growing list of capital needs facing the school system.

The district's aging buildings have received hundreds of millions of dollars in sprinkler upgrades, computer wiring and major maintenance during the past several years, but community complaints about crowding suggest a need for construction.

Funds for that may be difficult to secure in the current economic climate.

Edmondson Heights Elementary parents, who had asked the Baltimore County Board of Education for help, have embarked on a letter-writing campaign in hopes that area politicians will be able to persuade the board to take action.

"Can you help fix this terrible problem?" the form letter reads.

Although parents say that basic instruction has not suffered, they worry that the lack of space shortchanges their children with regard to fine-arts education.

According to PTA leaders, music classes are held in the cafeteria, and art teachers must push their supplies on carts. PTA leaders said gym classes take place in the school's lobby, and reading help is provided in a converted closet.

"There are mice running across the floors," Jay added.

The space crunch, parents and officials said, results from extra programs at the school. The library was turned into a classroom this school year because all-day kindergarten classes were started.

Knowing that Edmondson Heights would need more rooms to accommodate all-day kindergarten, the school system hired two teachers and installed portable classrooms during the summer, Milbourne said.

However, more pupils than expected - 82 rather than 59 - enrolled in kindergarten classes, so officials converted the library to avoid large class sizes, Milbourne said.

State regulations require a school library.

But William Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, said: "Temporary changes due to overcrowding do happen, and most school systems do their best to rectify it as soon as they can."

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