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Filled classes cause day-care problems for some

August 06, 2000

Filled classes cause day-care problems for some



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Full classrooms at Paramount Elementary School are causing headaches for parents who send their children from neighboring Washington County school districts to Paramount.

The children attend day-care within the Paramount district before and after school and attend Paramount Elementary during the day.

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Parents say it's more convenient to send their children to the district in which their day-care service is located rather than the district in which they reside, because it better accommodates work schedules and prevents early-morning commutes for their children.

At least seven children who live outside the district are being turned away from Paramount this school year after attending school there in the past, according to Donna Messina, the Board's community relations specialist.

School officials say the students must head back to their own districts because some grades at Paramount are at maximum capacity.

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Messina said fourth grade classrooms already have 23 students enrolled for the 2000-2001 school year. The state average is 22 students.

"The school has peak enrollment in a few grades," Messina said. "We have to look at the enrollment."

Messina said the Board of Education has the authority to deny special permission forms from students interested in attending out-of-district schools when that particular school is full.

She also said the policy is stated in bold-face print on the special permission forms.

"Based on class size, we have to limit the number," Paramount Principal Joanne Hilton said.

The move, parents say, leaves them scrambling to find new day-care providers with just three weeks before the start of the school year. They also say their children will have to adjust to new schools.

Brenda Barlow, of Hagerstown, said she hasn't yet told her 9-year-old son Brandon he might have to make new friends at Conococheague Elementary School, his home district.

"He's very attached to the children (at Paramount) that he has been attending school with, and he enjoys it. He's made close ties," Barlow said.

Barlow said she sent Brandon to Paramount because her sister, Donna McSherry, provides day-care service close the school.

"I have a piece of mind with him being with family rather than with a stranger," Barlow said. "I don't want to pull him from my sister."

McSherry, who has been a day-care provider for 12 years, said the rule is causing unnecessary confusion among parents and will force her to lose business.

"I've had these kids forever," McSherry said. "This is the first year that I've had kids denied. It's going to affect a lot of people. Why all of sudden are there no spaces for these children?"

Barlow said she is appealing the school system's decision.

"At this point, I really don't know where my son is going to school this year," she said.

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