Officials hesitate to approve new school Construction committee decides to wait until legal actions are resolved


Protests over new county school boundaries lodged by Seven Oaks residents have state officials hesitating to approve plans for the proposed Meade Area Middle School.

"It's premature to make a decision at this point either way," said Yale Stenzler, director of the Interagency Committee that oversees and approves school construction in Maryland.

"But with legal actions pending, we need to get more information from the school board's attorney about what he says they can or can't do," he said.

Dr. Stenzler raised the point yesterday when he met with county school planners to discuss which construction projects will be eligible for state aid in July.

School board members will get an update tomorrow on that meeting and get a look at plans for four other projects: an addition at Broadneck Senior High and new South Shore, Ridgeway, and Jacobsville elementaries. The board meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. at school system headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.

The dispute between the school board and the Seven Oaks community centers on two key issues: whether the citizens' redistricting committee violated Maryland's Open Meetings law last year by closing some meetings and whether the board acted improperly in approving the plan.

Seven Oaks residents filed suit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court over the alleged open meetings violation. No court date has been set. The residents also appealed to the state Board of Education the school board's decision to adopt the redistricting plan. The state board has set an April hearing.

"If they are successful and the state board says our board acted improperly in passing the redistricting plan, then I'm sure the board would have to make some quick decisions," Ronald L. Beckett, associate superintendent for support services, told Dr. Stenzler yesterday.

The IAC staff also questioned plans for the Brooklyn Park Middle School renovation, noting that moving sixth-graders into Brooklyn Park and Andover middle schools would leave more empty seats in the North County elementary schools.

Options that could lead to the approval of the Brooklyn Park project include redistricting, or closing two elementary schools: Ferndale and Belle Grove.

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