2 community groups object to school redistricting amendments


Only two community groups spoke out last night to object to amendments the Anne Arundel County school board has made to a plan that will change school boundaries starting next fall.

Shelly Shaplin, of the Eastport Elementary School Citizens Advisory Council, wanted to know why the board still wants to transfer 75 more students into the school.

The additional students will mean that rooms now used for before- and after-school day care will be pressed into use as regular classrooms.

"For two years, whenever the redistricting issue comes up, Eastport always shows up with a group of parents to show that I'm not just speaking for myself," Ms. Shaplin said. "The issue has always remained the same. We've been against redistricting. . . . Why have you not considered an amendment to keep Eastport at capacity? How do I answer these parents?"

The redistricting plans for Annapolis have been virtually unchanged since a compromise among community groups was reached about two years ago. The proposal now before the board leaves that compromise plan intact.

But other changes made by the board last week have reduced the number of students who will be affected by new school boundaries from 2,900 to 1,640.

About 20 parents testified at last night's hearing, and most seemed happy with the amendments.

Residents of the Quarterfield Farms development, however, seemed divided over the board's decision to allow about 77 students to remain at Oakwood Elementary School instead of transferring to Quarterfield Elementary School.

"I was in total shock that someone failed geography with regard to schools in this community," Patrick Smith told the board. "Quarterfield Elementary School is two minutes away, and our children are bused past Glen Burnie Park and Rippling Woods elementaries to Oakwood. By doing that, you take away our community. We liked the original proposal."

George Kispert, principal of Meade High School, spoke as a father last night, addressing the same subject.

"The recommendations for redistricting made a lot of sense to me and reinforced the neighborhood school concept," Mr. Kispert said. "I hope you will reconsider the amendment."

Cindy McKinney, president of the Oakwood Elementary School PTA, warned the board what would happen if it doesn't stay with the amended version of the plan.

"The whole PTA board will be dissolved if you move us to Quarterfield Elementary," she said. "Most of us live in Quarterfield Farms. We've fought for many items at Oakwood, including air conditioning. If you move our children, they'll be moving to an unair-conditioned school."

The board is scheduled to vote on the redistricting plan at its April 19 meeting. If any amendments are proposed that night, the board has promised to have an additional public hearing.

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