Randallstown parents pledge to continue bid for new school


Undeterred by a state official's conclusion that Randallstown Elementary School doesn't need to be rebuilt from the ground up, parents of children who attend the 92-year-old schoolhouse, the oldest in Baltimore County, will fight on.

"Never say die," said Donya M. Douglas, a Randallstown parent who has attended recent meetings of the Baltimore County Board of Education to lobby for a new school. "This is not the end."

Parents will meet soon to plan their next steps, said Douglas, who received yesterday a copy of a report by Yale Stenzler, executive director of the state's Public School Construction Program.

"I can't see how anyone could look at all the deficiencies and say it is adequate," said Douglas, who had yet to read the entire report last night. "I just think that is inconceivable."

Randallstown parents disagree with school and county officials who have proposed a $6.6 million plan to renovate the old school building, create a new bus loop and add a combination cafeteria and auditorium. They say their children need a new school because the old school's classrooms are too small, a problem that removing cloakrooms won't solve. They argue that there isn't enough space for special programs.

Last month, parents kept their children out of school for a day during administration of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Plan, a battery of standardized tests given annually to third-, fifth- and eighth-graders. That got the attention of state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who met with parents and agreed to let Stenzler review the plan.

Stenzler, whose office keeps track of school renovation and construction projects paid for with state money, concluded that the renovations and addition "will result in a modern school building able to provide for the delivery of educational programs and services necessary to meet the needs and requirements of the 21st Century."

In his report, Stenzler agreed that all of the school's 20 classrooms are smaller than they should be, given the number of students who use them. Still, there is enough space in each classroom for a "teacher to arrange and rearrange furniture and provide for the activities necessary within the classroom," he said.

Most of Randallstown's classrooms handle fewer students than the state's recommended 22 pupils per kindergarten class and 25 students per class in grades one to five. Randallstown averages 20 students per kindergarten class and 23 students per class in grades one to five, Stenzler said. He concluded that the renovation and addition would create enough space for special education, reading and music classes if teachers are willing to share space and move about.

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