By Kieran Butler
The Baltimore County Board of Education is scheduled to vote March 3 on a new school boundary plan that would move an estimated 700 elementary-age kids to the newly built Lyons Mill Elementary in August.
The move is needed, school officials have said, to alleviate overcrowded conditions at elementary schools in the northwest area of the county.
Under the plan, New Town, Woodholme and Owings Mills elementary schools would get the most relief from overcrowding. Hernwood, Randallstown and Church Lane elementary facilities would not be affected by the change while Winand elementary would only be affected slightly.
The board heard concerns about the plan from parents and community members who showed up at a public hearing Thursday at New Town High School. Parents said they were concerned about the safety of the children attending the new school, which is located off of the busy Owings Mills Boulevard.
“Our concern is that the children who will be walking will have an issue with safety,” said Sylvia Mack, vice president of the Lyonswood Homeowners’ Association. “I hope something is done about the speeders.”
Robert Anderson, a father of four children who have been educated in the Baltimore County public school system, said his concern is for the safety of the current and future children of the county, particularly at the new elementary school.
Linda Dorsey-Walker, president of the Lyonswood Homeowners’ Association, said there are not middle school options in the immediate area, leaving many parents to send their children to private schools. She told the board that the association had been asking for a middle school in the area and thought it a good idea now that Lyons Mill was going to be part of the community.
An estimated 30 people attended the meeting, but only four spoke.
Mack said after the meeting that she believed many parents were unaware that they were required to officially sign up in advance to speak. She said many of those who attended likely had concerns regarding the redistricting of their children or their children getting the opportunity to use the new technology and other services provided at the school.
Plans for the 700-seat school include supplying new technology and educational programs for the students to be enrolled, according to the principal for the new school.
“We are a lighthouse and passport school,” said Maralee Clark, the principal for Lyons Mill and former principal for Woodholme Elementary, one of the proposed schools for the move. “Every student kindergarten through fifth grade will have their own HP Elite.”
Clark, a former Towson University student, said that the passport program will allow children in the fourth grade to learn Spanish through an educational program that will include a Spanish teacher coming in once a week.
The new school boundary lines were drawn up by a Boundary Study Committee convened by the superintendent last year. Over a three month period, the committee held several public hearings and commissioned a survey of parents whose children attend the eight schools that would have been effected by the proposed changes. The committee chose the current proposal, known as Plan B, for the full school board to consider.
The study committee’s report said school officials chose the plan that would impact the fewest students while providing the most effective relief to the most overcrowded schools. The report said the current plan also had strong support from the community.
No one on the school board said anything in response to the parents who spoke at the meeting. The board has scheduled a meeting to vote on the measure at 7 p.m. on March 3 at Building E, Greenwood.