Parents criticize proposal for school

160 pupils at New Town would be transferred

`Temporary' fix to ease crowding

April 08, 2003|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County school officials have drawn up a tentative plan for easing crowding at New Town Elementary School in Owings Mills next school year, but parents complain it won't help much.

The plan, which has circulated among parents, would move as many as 160 pupils, including two classes of children who are emotionally disturbed, to other schools.

But parents, using school system estimates, complain that 100 new pupils would enroll at New Town Elementary because officials also would remove a cap on new enrollments that was imposed this school year.

"If they take the cap off, we'll probably find ourselves in the same situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of the year," said Joan White McCain, chairwoman of New Town PTA's Overcrowding Committee.

"Our school will still be overcrowded, and we're very concerned," said Arvis Tucker, PTA president.

Since opening two years ago, New Town Elementary's enrollment has far exceeded official projections. Nearly 1,000 pupils attend the school, about 300 more than it was designed to hold. Parents complain academic achievement is suffering as a result.

Superintendent Joe A. Hairston has not signed off on the new plan, and school officials are working on it, especially the proposal to remove the enrollment cap, said Douglas J. Neilson, a schools spokesman.

The final plan will be unveiled this month. Neilson emphasized that it would be a "temporary Band-Aid" until the school system can build another elementary school in the area.

The district is trying to secure funding to build a school just north of Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville.

Under the tentative plan, New Town Elementary's two classes for emotionally disturbed children would relocate to Chatsworth School.

Pupils living in McDonogh Township, Garrison Woods and Garrison Apartments would be transferred to Summit Park, Fort Garrison, Franklin and Glyndon elementary schools.

Michael Franklin, president of the PTA Council of Baltimore County, said the best solution to the crowding problems would be to rearrange school boundaries in northwest Baltimore County.

But DeJong & Associates, an outside consultant, recommended against redistricting, saying it would affect 500 students in eight schools while providing short-term relief.

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