Mount Airy parents attack school redistricting

Parents of fourth-graders who might have to leave their Mount Airy Elementary friends behind next year when they enter fifth grade asked in vain last night for a "grandfather" clause that would let the children stay another year.

Under redistricting plans designed to ease crowding at Mount Airy, up to 179 children could be transferred to Winfield Elementary next year.


"If you can make concessions to people who don't live in Carroll County and people whose baby sitters are up this way, why not consider grandfathering children who will be in the fifth grade?" asked Deborah Carter of Penn Hill, amid audience applause, during the redistricting meeting at Mount Airy Elementary.

But Vernon Smith, director of school facilities, said the staff is not going to suggest allowing those students to remain at Mount Airy for their final year because the school system wants to free up as much space as possible at the school as soon as possible.


In addition, he said, the school would have to run an extra bus to pick up the fifth-graders.

"Grandfathering is an emotional issue for a lot of people," Mr. Smith said. "But we have found that the transition is made more quickly by the kids than the parents."

However, Raymond Mathias, principal of Winfield Elementary, said he would be willing to coordinate a joint graduation assembly with Mount Airy Elementary students.

The Winfield school, which has 458 students, is being remodeled and will have eight new classrooms by September. School capacity will be increased to 600 regular education and 80 special education students.

Mount Airy Elementary, built for 700 students, now has 843 because of growth in the area.

The three options for redistributing the students are:

* Moving children from all communities between Braddock Road and Gillis Road to Winfield. This plan, which would also move children on Roop Road as far as Michael Drive, would transfer 139 students.

* Option B builds on the previous one, including the Carroll Woods and Timber Ridge developments, for a total of 172 students.


* Option C builds on the previous two to include students on Bartholow Road north of Old West Falls Road for a total of 179 children.

The next public meeting on the proposed boundary adjustment will be 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at South Carroll High. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposals during a special session at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at Mount Airy Elementary.