Parkville again talking magnet school


It's back to square one at Parkville Middle School.

After being told they would have a magnet program for the 1995-1996 school year and then being told they would not, parents, teachers, students and school administrators are studying the possibility of a magnet program for 1995-1996.

"I'm excited about what's happening," said Parkville Assistant Principal Steve Edgar, co-chairman of the 25-member magnet steering committee with the school's new principal, Michael Zajdel.

Magnet schools are intended to draw students with similar subject-area interests, to give families choices beyond the neighborhood school and to ease racial imbalances by attracting students from other areas without divisive boundary changes. The Parkville committee, which met for the first time this week, was created after a stormy parent-faculty meeting in May during which Superintendent Stuart Berger said there definitely would be a magnet program just minutes after two of his administrators had said that a committee would consider such an innovation.

In the ensuing confusion, Dr. Berger said he would withdraw the plan for a magnet program for about 400 students from the northeastern and southeastern areas of the county.

However, said Mr. Edgar, the Parkville magnet already is beginning -- in the community -- as have all of the county's other new magnet programs.

He said he and Mr. Zajdel had a "very positive meeting" with Dr. Berger and members of the PTA executive board before convening the committee, which also includes residents of the southeastern area of the county.

"I think everything's going to be fine," Dr. Berger said this week of the Parkville situation.

Mr. Edgar said the committee will meet throughout the summer to see if a magnet is feasible and to explore what curriculum specialties would be suitable.

"I feel that Parkville is a logical place to have a magnet," he said. "If we can work out some of these logistics, it will be a benefit to the community."

With about 600 students and a capacity of 1,050, Parkville, on Avondale Road, is the only middle school in its area that has space for a magnet program.

If the committee agrees to pursue a magnet program, it would have to write a specific proposal, outlining the areas of special study and the geographic areas it would draw from.

That proposal would be subject to approval by two magnet advisory committees and the school board.

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