Members of the Parent Teacher Association at George Cromwell Elementary had little trouble Tuesday night getting signatures on four petitions complaining about the school system's priorities.

A slight drizzle outside the Ferndale School didn't deter 150 parents from the program organized to familiarize everyone with classroom rules and school policy. Nearly every parent signed petitions complaining about the state's school performance program, and asking for in-school chorusinstruction and head-lice checks by county health personnel. The petitions will be sent to the Board of Education and County Executive Robert R. Neall.

Almost every chair at the forum was occupied. Parents who couldn't find a seat stood along the wall as teachers and staff were introduced.

Ten-year-old Tommy Brown was anxious to show his mother, Jeanie Brown, his classroom and school library, which he said is "the best part of the school."

But before they had a chance to see teacherBonnie Burke, Tommy's mother wanted information on changes in schoolpolicy, including the elimination of chorus instruction during classtime.

The 25 minutes a week once used for chorus will now be usedto bone up for exams required by the state's School Performance Program for students in grades three, five, eight and 11. Chorus will be offered during recess.

Several parents questioned whether too muchtime and money was being spent on achieving high marks in the performance program. The state-run program calls for public disclosure of test scores, attendance, pass-fail rates and demographics.

"Chorus is really important to my daughter," said Mary Hardesty, a mother of two. "It brought out her personality, and she didn't miss anything being out of class that I know of."

Parents also are asking school officials to come up with someone who can continue to check for head lice among students. A change in school policy means that principals may no longer call the county Health Department in suspected cases. Parents are now responsible for examinations, and Health Department personnel will work more extensively with seriously ill students.

"Two schools in our area have already found head lice," PTA president LouAnn Trader said. "I may check my child, but who's to say others will? I'm not saying I don't care about the other kids with serious illnesses, but the bottom line is that (the Health Department workers) aresupposed to be here for our children."

Parents plan to bring their concerns to a public forum with school system administrators at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Corkran Middle School in Glen Burnie. School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton was scheduled to conduct the meeting, but he is recovering from surgery earlier this week. Deputy Superintendent C. Berry Carter will conduct the meeting.

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