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Parents upset over proposals to redistrict Severn schools WEST COUNTY Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills


Severn Elementary School parents say that each time the county's school system decides to redistrict schools they get the short end of the stick.

"It's always Severn," said PTA President Helen Connors. "The school system is just moving around lines without looking at the kids."

School officials say that's simply not true and any plans to change Severn Elementary's high school feeder system from Old Mill to Meade will be discussed with parents.

Tonight, Severn parents and school officials will meet at the elementary school to discuss options. But, if a similar meeting last week with Severn and Meade parents is any indication, the talk might become heated.

"Everybody got upset because [the plan to redistrict Severn] was just out of the blue," Mrs. Connors said. "[School officials] were telling us that as early as September '94, possibly September '93 our kids could be moved. We want to know what is pressing them to move Severn?"

Michael Raible, director of planning and construction for the school system, said the issue of redistricting the Meade feeder system was raised by former school board member Paul Greksa, who pointed out that the boundaries made no sense. A significant portion of the Severn area reaches far down into the Meade system, Mr. Raible said.

The first option, which would affect about 200 students, is to move part of the Severn area -- the communities of Severn Hills, Lake Village, Severn Village, Quail Run and Severn Woods -- from the Old Mill to the Meade feeder system.

In this move, Severn Elementary would take some students from Ridgeway Elementary. Both Severn and Ridgeway elementaries would remain in the Old Mill feeder system, Mr. Raible said.

The second option is to leave Severn boundaries as they are, but move all students from the Old Mill feeder system to the Meade feeder system.

A third possibility raised at last week's meeting was to include the future Seven Oaks Elementary school in the Meade feeder system. Students now living in the Seven Oaks community attend Odenton Elementary and are part of the Arundel feeder system.

Mr. Raible said the Seven Oaks Elementary School is five to seven years away, but the school board will consider including the new school in the Meade system.

Superintendent C. Berry Carter II is to make a recommendation on redistricting proposals for several school areas at the Dec. 2 board meeting. Board members are expected to vote for a redistricting plan at the Jan. 20 board meeting.

In addition to looking at the geographical boundaries, Mr. Raible said the "perceived low" socioeconomic status of the students in the Meade feeder system was looked at, too. Mr. Raible said he was asked to study the inclusion of middle- to high-income families in the Meade system.

But Mrs. Connors said the Severn-Old Mill system already has racial and economic balance. "We have people here who are lower class, middle class, upper class."

But Jean Peterson, of the Meade Area Schools Community, said many Meade parents left last week's meeting upset because of a few outspoken Severn parents who criticized the Meade system.

"There were statements like, 'We don't want our kids attending school with those kids,' " Mrs. Peterson said. "Someone made a statement that incidents at Meade High totaled four pages of a police report while there were only two from Arundel High."

Mrs. Peterson said she is hopeful both sides will be able to come together if the school system decides to redistrict any part of Severn into the Meade system.

"I grew up in 4-H and our motto was to make the best better," Mrs. Peterson said. "I hope we can all get together and make Meade better."

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