Public meeting addresses Mount Hebron problems and renovation proposals

Education notebook

February 18, 2007|By John-John Williams IV

A discussion about a pending renovation project and sewage problems at Mount Hebron attracted more than 200 people to the high school's auditorium for two hours Monday evening.

Top school system administrators favor a $49.8 million plan that would include mechanical upgrades, full systemic renovations and an expansion of the school's art, athletic and administrative offices.

But concerned parents wanted the school system to further investigate other options, according to Cindy Arlinger, the Mount Hebron PTSA president, who attended the meeting.

"People are questioning what is the best economic move," Arlinger said. "What is [in] the best interest of our community? ... Many of us are planning to stay here for many years."

Ken Roey, the system's executive director of facilities and management, informed the Board of Education this year that top central office personnel preferred the $49.8 million plan from five options for the school. Those options ranged in cost from $29.8 million for routine mechanical upgrades to $91.4 million for replacement of the school -- with the exception of the ninth-grade wing, the school's second story and the gymnasium.

A sewage leak Jan. 18 also generated parental concerns.

The school's check valves failed, causing leaks in several second-floor science rooms.

Arlinger said many parents seemed content with the answers on the leaks provided by central office personnel.

"I felt that they were making progress," she said. "They are going to be doing the testing and determining how to solve that problem."

Snow-days payback

Good old Frosty might have caused two snow days last week, but Howard County students will have to make them up at the end of the year.

Instead of the scheduled end date of June 14, students now will get out of school June 19. Howard County has six inclement weather days built into its calendar.

But for families who have planned vacation during those days, a conflict might occur.

Atholton High School has informed parents of the change in the last day of school in a letter that said, "Please make your summer plans accordingly, knowing that we have at least another month of possible inclement weather ahead of us. HCPSS policy does not permit students to take final exams early. If a student misses any final exam for an unexcused absence, he/she ... will not earn credit for the course."

The letter also reminded parents that students can have up to three discretionary absence days during the school year. "Any student who misses a final exam for an excused absence is required to make an appointment to take that exam by the end of June," the letter added.

Altered schedule

In addition to a change in the last day of school, the snow days and morning delays also have altered meetings and events throughout the school system.

The school board was scheduled to meet with the County Council on Feb. 7, but a morning delay caused by the weather resulted in the cancellation of the meeting. The meeting to discuss many issues -- including the Mount Hebron renovation plan, the No Child Left Behind Act and the operating budget -- has been rescheduled for 8:15 a.m. Friday.

Snow days affected the Marriotts Ridge High School junior-class-sponsored dance, "Mustangs of the Caribbean." The dance, which was scheduled for Friday, will now be held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. March 16.

Two honored

Two Howard County students have been named "distinguished finalists" for their community service efforts.

Yonatan Grossman-Boder, 17, of Columbia and Afton Vechery, 17, of Woodbine, have been honored with the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program that recognizes young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Vechery, a Glenelg High senior, is founder and chief executive officer of SAFEH2OWEST, a business that provides low-cost well-water testing for people in her community.

Grossman-Boder, a senior at Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Community High School in Baltimore, is founder and director of Bears for Life, a group that has raised enough money to purchase an ambulance for a relief organization in Israel.

More than 7,000 students were nominated for the awards program this year. Winners were selected by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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