Parents complain to board about overcrowded schools

By Ashlin Bird
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

An estimated 15 residents of Baltimore County complained about overcrowding in several schools and they urged the Board of Education to fix the problem soon.

The residents told the board during its Feb. 21 meeting that overcrowding has been a problem at Perry Hall Middle and High School and Dulaney High School for at least 20 years.

“We truly need action and not just a short-term solution,” said Tiffany Stith, a North East Area Education Advisory Council member. She said the problem will get worse in the near future because more students will come from the eight feeder elementary schools that are also overcrowded.

The trailers that were provided for classrooms take away from the outside recreational space for the school and are only a short-term solution to the overcrowding, said Perry Hall Middle School PTSA Vice President Amy Mitcherling.

Mitcherling, who is a parent from Perry Hall Middle and High School, called the additional buildings a “trailer park” and said that there will be five more added next year after three were added this school year.

Parents said a more permanent solution would be to rebuild Perry Hall and Dulaney rather than to renovate the outdated buildings.

“Build a new building, renovation won’t do it,” said Pamela Shapiro, a parent of two Dulaney High School students. Shapiro passed out a flier that said, “Keep calm and do it right the first time.”

Mitcherling said Perry Hall and Dulaney do not have enough lockers for all of their students. Perry Hall is close to running out of lockers after the school added more during the summer, she said.

“No lockers, miss and hit heat, no air conditioning, no potable water and it’s been that way since my son started there 10 years ago,” Shapiro said. “It’s about time we did something for it.”

The Perry Hall Middle School PTSA President Christine Hagan said that the school opened this year at 110 percent of building capacity and is projected to increase to 126 percent by 2018. “It is impractical to expect it to stretch much more,” Hagan said.

Students wonder how bad it will need to get before it gets better, Hagan said.

Marion Moore, a teacher from Baltimore County, said one possible solution is to model the middle and high school off of the CCBC duel enrollment program.

Seniors and juniors in high school can go to school part time by either having a part-time job or taking college level classes at CCBC, Moore said.

Moore said she noticed with her students that they were graduating earlier as a junior by taking these courses concurrently.

“If carried out appropriately across the board, the population would decrease in high schools,” Moore said.

Moore said that if there were fewer students in these high schools, then the overcrowded middle schools could send their eighth grade honor students to the local high schools for advanced classes.

“Parents, grandparents and community members are motivated to help find short- and long-term solutions that benefit the students and the teachers that promote learning, safety and academic success,” Hagan said.

“It is both surreal and disappointing that 30 years later we’re having the same conversations,” said Henn.

School board member Kathleen Causey said, “I will be voting against any contract that comes before the board for limited renovations to Dulaney that doesn’t fully address all of its current needs and its projected overcrowding.”

Board member Julie Henn agreed, saying “we can’t wait any longer.”

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