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Panel to move against schools But parents will fight recommendation


The Carroll County Planning Commission was to recommend today that the County Commissioners delay construction of two Westminster area schools.

Also today, a group of parents -- with the support of Westminster's mayor and Common Council -- was organizing to fight the recommendation.

The council pledged its support last night to Westminster parents Laurie Walters and Robin Kable, who are seeking chairmen for a citizens group that will try to counter the planning commission's recommendation for a two-year delay in construction of a third middle school and a second high school for Westminster.

The county planning board voted Dec. 2 to recommend that the county delay construction of the two schools until 2005. The recommendation is included in the county's six-year capital improvement plan, scheduled for presentation to the commissioners this afternoon. The draft version of the plan includes $29.5 million for the high school and $15 million for the middle school.

The planners' action comes less than two years after Westminster and South Carroll communities clashed over which would be the first to get an additional high school. The commissioners opted to give priority to the South Carroll high school. The Westminster high school was then scheduled to open in 2003.

"I'd like you to know that it may get a bit nastier this time. I feel that the people of Westminster have been very, very polite in their comments," Kable said. "Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel does get the grease."

Kable said that although she and Walters plan to turn the chairmanship of the committee over to other parents, she plans to remain involved because "I am personally so angry about this."

Kable said she and Walters have talked to about 50 people and found many unaware of the planning commission recommendation.

Walters agreed. "I think a lot of people have assumed that if you meet the requirements and the state says it's OK and the educators think it's OK," the schools will be built, she said.

County planners voted to recommend delaying the Westminster schools after complaining that the board of education had not furnished them with the most current enrollment projections.

Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan promised the parents the latest school enrollment projections and a meeting room.

"I think if we do all work together, we can win on the high school. I'm not so sure on the middle school because the enrollment projections are down," Yowan said.

Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro urged that city government be represented when the commissioners discuss the schools, a proposal that won the support of the council. He also suggested that the council schedule an information session before a planned joint county government and school board meeting in January. A date for the joint meeting has not yet been announced.

Yowan said that when county government approaches the state InterAgency Committee for School Construction for additional school financing next spring, the city will support the request, emphasizing the second Westminster high school.

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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