Ellicott City suggested as site for new facility for troubled youths; Alternative center would be constructed behind education building


Howard County school officials recommended last night that the new Alternative Learning Center for troubled youths be built behind the Department of Education building in Ellicott City.

The center for disruptive and emotionally disturbed youths is scheduled to open in the fall of 2001 with a capacity of about 230. It would be built on about 10 acres of a 64-acre parcel owned by the school system and bordered by Route 108, Manor Lane, the Gaither Hunt subdivision and Gaither Farm Estates.

Administrators recommended the site to the school board last night.

Officials will notify neighbors about the proposal, and a public hearing will be held March 9. The board plans to vote on the matter March 23.

Three programs will use the building:

Gateway, which serves students with behavior problems and is now housed in an old building on Route 108 across from River Hill Village Center.

Bridges, for students with severe emotional problems, which is temporarily in a Baltimore County building.

Passages, a new program that helps students released from detention centers return to regular school.

Alternative learning programs are usually put in converted school buildings, and teachers and students have to make do, said Craig Cummings, administrator of alternative education programs.

"This building is designed specifically for the needs of the kids who will be there, and that's a very exciting thing," Cummings said before the meeting. "It's long overdue."

He said residents of surrounding neighborhoods should not worry, because the programs are highly structured and students are supervised at all times.

Also last night, a school system naming committee recommended the name Fulton High School for the high school scheduled to open in Fulton in 2002.

Names considered by the panel included Rocky Gorge High, Highland High, Maple Lawn High and, in honor of the school superintendent, Michael E. Hickey Memorial High.

The new school will be built on the same site as Fulton Elementary School and Lime Kiln Middle School, off Route 216.

"Fulton High School was the name that came up most often, from kids, from the community," said Alice Haskins, director of middle schools, who presented the findings of the naming committee.

"All the high schools in Howard County are now named after the area in which they are located," she added.

Board Chairman Sandra H. French said she was not sold on the name, because it's the same as that of Fulton Elementary School.

"I really am opposed to the same name for [different] schools," she said. "There's so much confusion."

The board will hold a public hearing on the issue March 9 and will vote March 23.

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