In an effort to compensate for scheduling woes of Howard County schools and the loss of a member of the Central Maryland Conference, some athletic officials discussed the merger of schools in Howard and Carroll into one athletic league.

Coaches from Howard later turned thumbs down on the proposal, though Howard athletic directors continue to schedule many non-league games against Carroll teams, especially Liberty and South Carroll.

Don Disney, supervisor of physical education and athletics in Howard and a supporter of the proposed merger, said earlier this month that an accelerated school construction program in Howard may make the need for a merger moot in several years.

"We've accelerated our construction plans," Disney said. "By the end of the 1990s, we should have 10 equally divided high schools."

Howard now has eight schools -- all fairly evenly divided in 3A and 2A until the recent reclassification -- and some athletic directors were having problems scheduling non-league games in some sports. Many of the larger adjacent school systems -- Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Montgomery -- are locked into county schedules that have few openings for out-of-county contests.

Disney and South Carroll athletic director Fred Baker had suggested two possible mergers -- one that would have included the eight Howard schools and Liberty, North Carroll, South Carroll and Westminster from the Central Maryland Conference -- into a 12-team, two-division conference.

Another scenario would have combined those 12 schools with the three CMC schools from Frederick County -- Frederick, Thomas Johnson and Linganore -- and Monocacy Valley Athletic League team Francis Scott Key into a 16-team, two-division conference.

Although Baker said he was happy with the competition in the CMC and wanted those teams to join the new league, he was unhappy with the seven-team format of the conference.

Eight teams had joined the league when it first formed four years ago, but Damascus dropped out to return to a Montgomery County schedule less than two years after the CMC began.

The CMC has no immediate plans to add an eighth school, because none are available.

Although Howard's school facilities plan has been accelerated, Carroll's 10-year plan is a bit behind schedule.

A plan to replace Key with a bigger school has been scuttled and the current master plan includes a future high school in the Westminster area by the end of the decade. A high school in the Mount Airy area also has been discussed, but that likely would be about 15 years in the future.

Frederick County also has a new high school in its facilities plan, but that, too, is about five years away from construction.

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