School facilities forums planned

Two events to seek public opinion on findings from study

March 19, 2006|By ANICA BUTLER | ANICA BUTLER,SUN REPORTER

Anne Arundel County public schools officials plan to hold two more public forums next month on the Strategic Facilities Utilization Study.

The forums are an opportunity for community members to weigh in on the study's findings and projections before the final recommendations are presented to the Board of Education in May. The Strategic Facilities Utilization Study and Master Plan was commissioned last year by the school board for $488,874, and is being conducted by MGT of America, a national management and consulting firm.

At the forums, MGT will give a brief presentation. After that, attendees will break into groups to discuss the following topics: the condition, needs and use of school facilities; the changing demographics of the county; methods for determining facility needs; and possible solutions for addressing them.

The purpose of this second round of forums, said Joe Clark of MGT, is to make sure that the consultants heard and understood what residents said at the first round of forums. Clark said he expects many more people at next month's meetings than were present at the first round of forums in November.

The result of the study, according to school system officials, will be a long-range plan for housing the system's programs - including prekindergarten and alternative education - and accommodating the growth and movement of the county's students.

Board members have also said that the results of the study could be used as a tool for future redistricting in the school system. But at a board meeting last week, Debbie Ritchie, who is on the study's steering committee, urged the board to make clear to the public that the study is not solely for that purpose.

"People are scared that this is redistricting ... that their communities will be shaken up," Ritchie said.

The first forum will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 3 in the auditorium of North County High School, 10 E. First Ave. in Glen Burnie. The second will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 6 in the board meeting room of the Dr. Carol S. Parham Building, 2644 Riva Road in Annapolis. For more information on the forums, call the school system's main office:410-222-5000.

anica.butler@baltsun.com

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