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School board passes APFO chart on second try

Elections

Nearly two weeks after the Board of Education failed to pass this year's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, the chart that helps determine where development can and can't take place in the county was approved Tuesday night.

With board Vice Chairman Frank Aquino, who was absent for the original vote May 10, voting in favor of the chart, APFO passed 5-3 and will now be sent to the County Council.

Board members Allen Dyer, Cindy Vaillancourt and Brian Meshkin still voted against the chart, as they had earlier, calling for a better way to address growth management among the county's schools.

Meshkin proposed an amended version of the chart, which would keep the schools that were listed as "closed" under last year's chart with that same designation, while also closing the 10 schools that would fall under that category any time before 2025.

That motion was defeated 5-3, but the three who voted for it — and against passing the chart — still voiced serious concerns about approving a chart based on contingencies.

Approved each year, the APFO determines what schools in the county are overcrowded or likely to become overcrowded, and what could be done to alleviate a school's capacity. If a school is overcrowded with no alleviation in sight, it is designated "closed," meaning no development can take place in the area until the problem is corrected.

"The closed designation doesn't stop the development in that area, it just delays it," Aquino said. "The projections are the projections; the students are going to be there."

The chart takes into account potential redistricting, projected enrollment and capital projects like additions and new schools.

"This is also based on redistricting that hasn't happened for a school that hasn't been constructed," Meshkin said. "That's a lot of 'ifs,' that's a lot of question marks, and it's indicative of this broken process."

Passing a chart that's based on a "dream," Dyer said, wasn't a rational way to deal with growth management. He suggested sitting down with the County Council to try to come up with a better plan to address school overcrowding and managing growth in the county.

School system officials and other board members said that conversation could happen even if the board passed the chart.

"The discussion has to occur," said Ken Roey, director of facilities, planning and management for the school system. "But from the county's perspective, it doesn't help them by not sending the chart."

Board Chairwoman Sandra French said a longer discussion on the school planning process would occur at the next quarterly meeting between the board and the council, scheduled for June.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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