Howard Week

September 26, 2004

Allan Kittleman to seek his father's seat in Md. Senate

Howard County Councilman Allan H. Kittleman will seek his late father's seat in the state Senate.

Kittleman's father, state Sen. Robert H. Kittleman, battled leukemia most of the year and died Sept. 11. Despite his illness, the 78-year-old senator was expected to continue his term this winter in what would have been his 22nd year in the General Assembly.

The heavily Republican 9th District covers western Howard County and a portion of southern Carroll County. In 2002, Kittleman had no Democratic challengers for the Senate seat.

Allan Kittleman's decision surprised some observers, who thought he would continue his quest to be county executive in two years.

"It's probably the best thing for my family, in that being in the state Senate is less of a strain on my family than being county executive. If 10 years from now I want to run for executive, my children would be older," said the 45-year-old Kittleman, whose children range in age from 5 to 12.

Schools' capital budget doesn't include new school

Howard County Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin unveiled a tight, $87.4 million capital budget for next year that eliminates plans for a new northern elementary school and accounts for a substantial increase in the cost of construction materials.

The proposal for fiscal 2006 is $8.3 million less than this year's budget of $95.7 million because it no longer includes tens of millions of dollars for construction of Marriott's Ridge High School, which is scheduled to open next fall, and also defers projects at two elementary schools.

Cousin cut $2.2 million in planning costs for a new northern elementary school from his budget because revised enrollment numbers no longer support the need.

Presented by the schools' chief operating officer, Raymond Brown, at a school board meeting, Cousin's capital budget request is a stark contrast to Superintendent John R. O'Rourke's record-breaking $149.8 million proposal last year, which was eventually trimmed to $95.7 million.

"It was a lot smaller than last year's, and we appreciate that," said board Chairman Courtney Watson.

In an earlier interview, Cousin characterized his budget as a "bare-bones" proposal that incorporates the district's needs and the county's ability to fund projects. "We want to come away with the amount that meets the school system's [requests] but is also realistic and affordable," he said.

The bulk of the proposed budget goes to building new schools and major renovations: $8.5 million to open a western elementary school in 2006; $17.2 million to renovate Howard High School, which opened in 1951; and $23.3 million to build a northeastern elementary school by 2007.

The board will hold a public hearing on the superintendent's budget proposal at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Board of Education building in Ellicott City, and it has scheduled a vote on the measure for Oct. 12.

Panel offers 2 options for high school boundaries

After months of work winnowing down six proposals, the Howard County School Boundary Line committee presented two high school redistricting plans to the public as the county prepares to open Marriott's Ridge High School next fall.

The two plans - dubbed "green" and "red" - would start filling the county's 12th high school, being built on Route 99 in Marriottsville. Much like Reservoir High School when it opened in 2002, Marriott's Ridge will start with freshmen and sophomores.

The red plan would redraw boundaries for the 11 existing high schools; the green plan would not affect Atholton, Wilde Lake or Reservoir. The red plan meets the committee's school enrollment target of 90 percent to 110 percent of capacity at all schools; the green proposal does not.

The committee also made moderate adjustments to middle school boundaries, some of which are contingent on which high school plan is selected.

"We've been redistricting almost every year because of growth," David C. Drown, the school system's coordinator of geographical systems, told about 150 people at Hammond High School. "The school system is growing at the rate of 700 students each year, bigger than one middle school."

Under the green plan, students from Glenelg, Mount Hebron, River Hill and Centennial high schools would make up the Marriott's Ridge population.

The red plan is considered more aggressive because it would move 2,471 students - 369 more than the green plan - to new schools by the time Marriott's Ridge High School has a senior class in the 2007-2008 school year.

The committee used several criteria to reshape boundaries, including the school capacity goal, feeder systems that move children from middle to high schools, socioeconomic standing, academic performance and distance.

Final recommendations will be presented Oct. 28 to the county Board of Education, followed by two public hearings. The school board is scheduled to approve a final plan Nov. 23.

Zoning law to benefit animal shelter supported

Supporters of Frisky's Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary in Woodstock turned out for a Howard County Council hearing to support a proposed change in local zoning law to benefit the nonprofit animal shelter.

The more than 50 supporters far outnumbered the three opponents of the bill, which could help the embattled shelter by allowing animal sanctuaries as a conditional zoning use after a public hearing and if they meet technical standards.

The bill, sponsored by Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, a western county Republican, is due for a council vote Oct. 4. If approved, it would require at least a 3-acre site. The measure also includes restrictions to protect neighbors from unpleasant noises, smells and sights.

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