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Parents say school will still be too crowded

February 08, 2002

Parents say school will still be too crowded



By TARA REILLY
tarar@herald-mail.com


Stating the Washington County Board of Education "dropped the ball" over the redrawing of school boundaries, Eastern Elementary School parents vowing to push for equity in the overcrowded school.

About 10 parents who belong to the school's Citizen's Advisory Council spoke out about their concerns at a meeting Thursday night at the school.

Eastern Elementary, with an enrollment that fluctuates between 605 and 610 students, has a capacity of 584.

Board administrators, and a committee created by the School Board to even out enrollment at county schools, had recommended sending about 118 of Eastern's students to other schools.

Last week, however, the School Board voted to move 76 of those 118 students. Eastern's parents say that's not enough to ease overcrowding, especially in a district that's facing a population boom.

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It was recommended that the remaining 42 students, who live on Randolph Avenue, be sent to Potomac Heights, but the School Board voted that proposal down. Potomac Heights is close to Randolph Avenue.

To make room at Potomac Heights for the Eastern students, 38 Potomac Heights students would have been sent to Fountaindale Elementary School, but the School Board also turned down that proposal.

"I think it was a huge slap on the face that we didn't lose those extra kids," the school's CAC Chair Beth Duncan said.

Coupled with overcrowding, the school has a high percentage of students who leave and enter the school system during the school year, which parents say puts an additional hardship on teachers and harms the quality of education.

Parent Barb Cecil, who also served on the committee, said 298 students, or 49 percent, have already left the school this year.

"I just think it's a huge problem," she said. "It overwhelms this building. I think it's time to go to the elected board and say we need to look at equity in our schools."

Parent Mike Crouse said moving the 42 Randolph Avenue students to Potomac Heights would have benefited them, because they'd be going to a school that's in their neighborhood.

"The kids had the opportunity to go to a school that was right next to them, and they were denied that opportunity," Crouse said. "I think the committee did a nice job. It's just the fact that the Board of Education dropped it when it came to the end."

Parents said they believe a strong push from Potomac Heights students influenced the School Board not to redraw the boundaries of that school.

Eastern parents, however, said they chose to remain less vocal through the redistricting process, in the hopes that the School Board would understand the school's problems and "do the right thing."

"We entered this with grace and dignity ... and everything just kind of fell apart for us," Duncan said. "It sends the message to the community to be negative, be discriminatory ... and gather every person you can to speak at these meetings, and you'll get what you want."

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