Baltimore County Digest

Baltimore County Digest

July 14, 2006

Panel opposes busing to ease school crowding

Members of a northeastern Baltimore County education group have voted to oppose a plan to reduce crowding at Chapel Hill Elementary School in Perry Hall by busing children to other schools.

The Northeast Area Educational Advisory Council released a statement yesterday saying that the panel opposes the plan because school system data show that other schools in the area are more crowded and that capping enrollment at crowded schools could complicate transportation for pupils. The council also said that it and other groups were not consulted when the plan was developed.

Council Chairman David Marks said the seven members voted by e-mail. They were "delighted" by the construction of an elementary school on the Vincent Farms site, expected to open in 2008 and relieve the crowding at Chapel Hill. Residents want to change Chapel Hill's boundaries earlier, not cap enrollment, he said.

School system officials said at Tuesday's school board meeting that siblings might be sent to different schools if enrollment is capped. But schools spokeswoman Kara Calder said that would be rare and that officials would work with families.

"We can envision few scenarios where children from one household will be split when a cap would be initiated," she said.

Chapel Hill PTA President Rick Huether said that doesn't make him feel better about the cap.

"I think the plan is rushed," he said. "The numbers that they're giving us don't seem to add up."

County school officials and County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina announced an agreement to implement the cap in response to Chapel Hill parents' complaints at school board meetings.

The school, which can accommodate 593 children based on state formulas, enrolled 710 children last year, with about 130 attending half-day kindergarten or pre-kindergarten. More are expected to register this fall, when the school begins to offer full-day kindergarten.

Chapel Hill will get four portable classrooms to help accommodate the children, according to the presentation Tuesday.

A cap would take effect if more than 685 register. "The superintendent has the ability to cap, and his commitment is to cap when it reaches that number," Calder said.

Liz F. Kay

Countywide

Swimming resumes at two sites

Two beaches in eastern Baltimore County have reopened for swimming, officials said yesterday.

The beaches at the Hammerman area of Gunpowder Falls State Park and Hart-Miller Island State Park had been closed since July 7 because of unsafe levels of bacteria in the water, but levels have decreased, the state Department of Natural Resources said.

Loans to help buy security cameras

Baltimore County has approved more than $90,000 in loans to shopping center owners to buy video security cameras required by county law.

Passed last year by the county council, the law requires the owners of large shopping centers and large retailers to install security cameras by the end of this year. The measure was a response to the Feb. 2005 killing of St. Paul's School educator William A. Bassett in a Towson Town Center mall parking garage.

The county is providing a total of $96,977 in five-year loans, at 3 percent interest, to the owners of the 40 West Shopping Center in Catonsville, Marriottsville Shopping Center in Randallstown, Patapsco Village Shopping Center in Lansdowne and the Cherryvale Plaza and Cherry Valley Shopping Center, both in Reisterstown.

The money for the cameras comes through an Economic Development loan fund, said Fronda J. Cohen, spokeswoman for the county's Department of Economic Development.

County law requires shopping centers with 15 or more retail businesses and "big box" retailers, defined as stores with 7,500 square feet of space, to install the security cameras by the end of December.

Laura Barnhardt

Owings Mills

Young Actors to present `Annie'

A cast of 10- to 16-year-olds will perform the musical Annie as part of the Young Actors Theatre summer program at McDonogh School.

The curtain will rise in the Ceres M. Horn Theatre, 8600 McDonogh Road in Owings Mills, at 7:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will be sold at the door for $7. Information: 410-998-3526.

Dundalk

Concert series begins today

Project Millennium, a community-based arts organization, is sponsoring a concert series to help promote projects in Dundalk.

The first concert in the "Shakin' on the Main Street" series will feature classic rock music with The Breakfast Club today.

Additional concerts in the series are scheduled the second Friday of each month through October, and will feature Motown and R&B, jazz, and rock. All concerts are from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Veterans Park on Main Street, 81 Shipping Place, Dundalk. Information: 410-288-0610.

Rosedale

Meals on Wheels sponsors bingo

Meals on Wheels of Maryland is sponsoring Beach Basket Bingo today at Rosedale Gardens, 8037 Philadelphia Road, Rosedale.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and games will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets for sale by phone are $15 per person for 20 games. Information: 410-558-0932, Ext. 3026.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days before the event.

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