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State board squelches bid to shift school


A county citizens group seeking relocation of the planned western high school lost a final appeal to the State Board of Education last week, and it appears unlikely the group will take its appeal to court.

The state board issued a brief written opinion Wednesday stating that it would not review the Howard County school board's selection of a 64-acre site between Route 108 and Trotter Road for the school. The decision came one day after the state board heard arguments for the review by the Trotter Road Citizens Association.

Association President Shirley Geis said she plans a meeting to discuss a possible court appeal.

"I doubt that we will, but I cannot absolutely say we will not," she said Friday.

Geis said the group received an estimate of $15,000 in lawyer's fees to pursue the case. The association conducted its state board appeals without an attorney.

The county school board was represented by its contract attorneys, Reese and Carney. Associate Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said the school system has received partial bills of $2,280 from the lawyers, but he did not know how much of the appeals process those charges covered.

The state board upheld the recommendation of Administrative Law Judge Charles W. Fowler, who concluded that the county board's site selection had not been

arbitrary, unreasonable or illegal. The state board thus had no legal basis to review it.

Residents contended that the school should have been built farther west to serve the western county, while school officials countered that the site is centrally located to relieve overcrowding at Atholton, Glenelg and Centennial high schools.

The citizens pointed out that the board looked at just one other site for the school, near the planned River Hill village center.

School board attorney Michael S. Molinaro told the state board that the alternate site was rejected partly because of concerns about ground water contamination. However, the school would be served by public water.

County General Services Director Rebecca W. Horvath said slow-moving salt contamination from an old highway shop near the Clarksville Fire Co. should not affect the planned village center.

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