Carroll County school Superintendent William H. Hyde told residents last night that a regional high school was a "possibility" for Mount Airy but said it wasn't likely anytime soon.
About 50 residents turned out at the Mount Airy Middle School gymnasium for a meeting held by Hyde and school board President Gary W. Bauer to allow the community to voice concerns about the school system.
Bauer and Hyde brought staffers from various departments. County Commissioner Donald I. Dell also attended.
Highest on the priority list was a high school for Mount Airy, a town of 5,000 that sends students to two high schools, one in Carroll and one in Frederick County.
Mount Airy residents have long lobbied for a high school. Supporters contend that a local high school would keep class sizes down in a fast-growing area and give Mount Airy a greater sense of community if it had its own high school.
Frederick and Carroll school officials have said they see no need for a Mount Airy high school. Both counties are building high schools in other areas.
"For Carroll County, the need for high school seats will be met with the construction of Century High School [in South Carroll] and another in Westminster," said Kathy Sanner, Carroll's director of school support services.
The meeting was the first of several planned this year. Last night, residents also expressed concern that residential growth in Mount Airy will crowd elementary schools. School officials said birth rates and growth projections indicate that enrollment at Mount Airy Elementary School will remain manageable.
"But what if we get slammed with 200 to 300 students coming in and nothing is in the master plan?" asked Susan Vette, who has two children at Mount Airy Elementary. "Would we have 20 portables at the elementary school and no gym or music?"
Vernon F. Smith, assistant superintendent for administration, said the state sets high thresholds for crowding before it pays for new schools.
"In order to justify the funding of new schools, schools have to be overcrowded," he said. "Unfortunately there needs to be a level of discomfort" before schools are built.
Pub Date: 10/06/99