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Dozens turn out for schools forum with Dance

Of the dozens of Towson residents who attended Tuesday's community forum with Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, none spoke out against the need for more seats in the overcrowded central corridor.

But the parents and others from those communities did make it clear that, as plans to add more seats are decided upon, they want their voices heard in the process.

Over a dozen parents spoke at the hour-long meeting held at Carver School of Arts and Technology, the fourth in a five-part series of community forums Dance is using to gather feedback on the school system.

After Dance gave a presentation on the state of the school system — including the myriad of curriculum and policy changes — the superintendent took questions on the ongoing audit of county magnet schools, efforts made to lift under-achieving schools and most prominently, the proposals to increase seats in the York Road corridor.

The school system is currently asking for feedback on a proposed three-part plan that would: add seats to Cromwell Valley Elementary Magnet; build a 500-seat school at the site of the closed Loch Raven Elementary to house, among others, the population of Halstead Academy; and renovate Halstead Academy to house a future magnet program.

But many of the parents in attendance at Tuesday's meeting, especially those from Loch Raven Village, Loch Hill and Idlewylde noted that those solutions don't really address the cause of overcrowding.

Duncan Keir, who spoke on behalf of the Idlewylde and Loch Hill residents, received a standing ovation from the crowd for point out that the proposals "are all dealing with the east side" of York Road and ignore the overcrowding at West Towson and Rodgers Forge elementary schools.

Representatives from Loch Raven Village said that the community met last week in response to the proposal to reopen Loch Raven Elementary. They are largely opposed to it, citing that the school would split the community, sending neighborhood children to different schools.

Parents who spoke from Cromwell Valley Elementary focused their questions on how an addition would affect the school's magnet program, as well as the sibling and walker priority the school currently has in place. Dance said many of those answers would likely be impacted by the ongoing magnet program audit.

Dance said during the meeting that a larger community meeting would likely be scheduled for the last week in October for stakeholders to give feedback on proposals and potentially hear new ones. That meeting date could be set as early as next week, Dance said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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