Two alternative schools sharing building

Inverness Center leaves its aging building, moves to Rosedale Center

January 26, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

For most of the past eight years, Dale Grimes has had his own classroom at the Rosedale Center alternative school.

Starting today, he'll have to share.

A second alternative school, the Inverness Center, completed a move from its Dundalk facility to the Rosedale Center on Friday. Baltimore County school system officials say the move was necessary because of problems with Inverness' aging building.

Each school, geared for students with behavioral problems and other challenges, offers a half-day program. For the foreseeable future, Rosedale students and teachers will occupy their Old Philadelphia Road building in the morning, and those from Inverness will come in for the afternoon.

The combined schools will serve about 300 students from central, northeastern and southeastern Baltimore County. Each has a middle school and a high school, and the four schools have 75 students each.

Inverness' middle school moved to Rosedale at the beginning of the school year, and its high school moved Friday.

The move means longer bus rides for some students and less after-school tutoring time for others. And it means slightly shorter school days and adjusting to life without lockers or a cafeteria.

For teachers, it means throwing away old materials to fit everything in someone else's classroom. And it means grading papers and preparing lesson plans in a trailer.

For Rosedale's principal, Connie Peterson, the move means double the responsibility. Peterson took the helm of both schools after Inverness' principal resigned in the fall. With one school opening at 6:30 a.m. and the other closing at 5 p.m., she's working long days.

"The staff sends me home," she said, "but I just like to be here when kids are here."

Still, many staff members unpacking boxes Friday emphasized the benefits of merging the two schools.

Grimes and his students had gotten used to using an old overhead projector and old computers. On Friday, that equipment was hauled away as his roommate, Dan Kyle, arrived with newer machines.

Grimes was also accustomed to being Rosedale's only high school math teacher. A 15-year veteran, he said he's looking forward to learning from Kyle, who has 35 years of experience.

Rosedale teachers have practice making room for other schools. In 2000, after a fire at Elmwood Elementary, Elmwood students and teachers spent a semester at Rosedale while the Rosedale school held classes at Cockeysville Middle School.

School system officials decided last year to move Inverness out of the building it had occupied since opening in 1994. The building, on a peninsula five blocks from Bear Creek, was first used as a school in 1957. The school closed in 1980, and for the next decade and a half it was used to store county voting machines and other materials.

The school system said an aging heating room boiler is a significant reason that the building is no longer usable. The building also needs repairs to its roof and plumbing system, according to school district documents.

School system spokesman Douglas J. Neilson said the school system hopes to retain the Inverness site for educational use, but it will probably be necessary to tear down the old building and start over.

The county has budgeted $1.2 million for renovations at Rosedale, such as a new parking lot.

The alternative schools seek to send students back to mainstream schools, and on average students stay for one semester. Baltimore County's first semester ended Friday, and the second semester begins today. At least 50 of the Inverness high school's 75 first-semester students are returning to their home schools, and 50 new students start this week.

An after-school tutoring program for Rosedale middle school students was shortened from 75 minutes to 30, Peterson said. Rosedale high school students are starting school 15 minutes earlier, at 7 a.m., but still losing 15 minutes of class time each day because school ends a half-hour earlier.

Teachers continued holding classes at the Inverness building through Thursday and had Friday to set up their new rooms. It was chaotic, Kyle said, but "everyone has bent over backward to be helpful."

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