Parents laud expansion plan for crowded Woodlawn High; Many point to other needs at Balto. County school


Parents of Woodlawn High School students celebrated a plan to construct a $13 million classroom addition but vowed to keep fighting for more improvements at a town hall meeting last night.

"We've shown that we can really do something if we stick together," said Clara Hayes, president of Woodlawn's PTSA. "Now we have a plan, and we are well on our way."

On Friday, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger surprised educators and parents with a plan to build the addition to handle crowding. No date for a groundbreaking has been announced.

School system projections show that enrollment at Woodlawn could top 2,000 in two years. The school has about 1,700 students -- almost 200 over capacity.

Woodlawn's PTSA has been lobbying for improvements since December and had planned to discuss the need for an addition at last night's meeting. But Ruppersberger's plan forced it into a new direction, and parents and teachers brainstormed about how to further improve the school's image.

Parents said they will continue to lobby for a complete renovation at Woodlawn, which, they said, has plumbing and heating problems, an outdated fire alarm system, tattered furniture, rust-stained gym showers and a shortage of textbooks.

Some parents and alumni are working to raise money to pay for athletic field improvements -- a project that needs $475,000 to get started.

Last night, many parents promised to help and begged others to pitch in.

"How many students attend Woodlawn? Seventeen hundred? There should be more representatives in this room," said Francine Churchill, a parent. "I want to be involved, and I think other parents should be involved."

Another parent, Raymond Briggs, said officials should crack down on students who attend Woodlawn but live in the city.

"If you want to know who they are, just go to the bus stop and watch them get off the bus," Briggs said.

The only student who spoke at the meeting was Patricia Edmonds, 16, an 11th-grader whose description of a shortage of textbooks and dirty bathrooms caused some in the audience to groan.

"How can they expect students at Woodlawn to do anything when we don't have textbooks?" asked Edmonds.

Some improvements were made recently and more are on the way, according to school officials at last night's meeting. They said Woodlawn's heating system was flushed, air vents in the gym were replaced and additional teaching positions were added to reduce class size. The officials said a new track and exterior doors will be installed this summer, and renovation of the cafeteria and science labs is planned.

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