Residents: Don't rezone students from Pleasant Plains to Loch Raven Elementary [Letter]

Thanks to reporter Jon Meoli for his balanced article, "No Accord on Loch Raven Elementary" in the Jan. 22 issue of the Towson Times.

We are writing because although we believe the story fairly reported Superintendent Dallas Dance's position, the article fell short in several ways from the perspective of the four community members representing the Loch Raven Village and Knettishall communities.

The two primary concerns articulated by Dr. Dance in the article are that our children will not be able attend the new school and our community programs will be displaced.

While the latter is a significant concern that we do not want to minimize, we highlighted more immediate and far-reaching issues with this proposal. Additionally, there has never been an occasion, neither prior to, nor during the meeting with Dr. Dance, where we have voiced the desire for children who currently attend Pleasant Plains Elementary to be rezoned to the newly rebranded Halstead Academy planned for the Loch Raven Elementary location.

The complete opposite is the case. In fact, residents who reside on the east side of Loch Raven Village expressed concerns again at a meeting regarding the feedback.

We have stated in formal memos and at Board of Education meetings that adding a second elementary school to Loch Raven Village and redistricting segments of our community to that school will risk dividing our neighborhood permanently. Moreover, placing another Title 1 elementary school in our neighborhood while no significant overcrowding problem exists at Pleasant Plains, will detrimentally affect real estate values due to the misnomer that can be associated with Title 1 schools, as it relates to test scores.

Furthermore, Dr. Dance submitted the revisions to the central area overcrowding proposal that he spoke of on Jan. 15 to the Interagency Committee on School Construction (moving 100 seats from Cromwell Valley Elementary to Loch Raven Elementary site as one of them). When he told us about the revisions on Jan. 17, they had nothing to do with our needs, but instead everything to do with the needs of BCPS. BCPS was failing to meet the expectations of the Interagency Committee, therefore, revisions needed to be submitted. BCPS's revisions in no way match anything we have stated publically or officially.

We have told county schools and others that Loch Raven Village opposes this plan because it deprives Loch Raven Village of the use of Loch Raven Elementary and could force the division of the community. The inclusion of a few Loch Raven Village students does not address the problems identified. BCPS' inclusion of a few Loch Raven Village students in the revised plan was not the product of a discussion with the community.

Moreover, the revised plan still does not address overcrowding.

We want our schools improved, our neighborhoods strengthened, and our Board of Education members, including the superintendent, accountable to the citizens of Baltimore County.

Wade Barnes

Gary Herwig

Pamela Metcalf

Thea Mussman

Antoinette O'Donnell

Kate Cogswell Walkinshaw

Karen Williams

Ad Hoc School Committee

Associates of Loch Raven Village Inc.

Bryan Y. Fischer, vice president

Knettishall Community Association Inc.

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