By any measure, the college park Elementary School seems like an ideal school - bright, high-ceilinged classrooms, halls lined with banners and art work, and small classes with students who get high scores on national aptitude tests. Just little old red brick neighborhood schoolhouse.
But if the majority of members from School Closing Taks Force 3-B have their way, College park Elementary at 4601 Calvert Rd. will close its doors in June.
Task force 3-b includes six schools: Paint Branch, Spring Hill Lake, Berwyn Heights, Hollywood, Holly Park and College Park elementaries.
The task force, made up of five members from each school, decided to close two schools in the area after all members, including the Holly park representatives, agreed Holly Park could be closed in the summer of 1978. But representatives from College Park have still not agreed that their school should be closed.
"If we move our whole school to Berwyn Heights," said Robbie Goldstein, a College Park task force member and mother the bus, our bus-riders have a longer ride, and they'll get a low quality of education.
"Our children are getting a quality education at College Park despite its small size. That is a plus instead of a minus. As taxpayers, what are we getting by closing out school?"
In the school's music room, two little girls are playing autoharps and singing softly. Out in the hallway, Principal Mary Jane Lusby points out the "outstanding" awards given to sixth graders at th end of each school year.
There are plaques for best patrol, for art, citizenship, physical education and science. The names of many former College Park youngsters are engraved on these plaques and empty tags await this year's winners. They probably will be the last ones.
"I have a lot of empathy for College park," said Claudette Johnson, chairwoman of the task force that supports the majority report to close College park School. "They have an ideal situation there. But to meet increased utilization in the whole task force area, we have to close two schools.
"I don't want the school board to come back next year and say close a school," said Johnson. "That would mean uprooting our children again. A clean sweep would do it and for 10 years they won't come back here."
The criteria the school board established for an ideal school situation were: a student enrollment close to school capacity, with an efficient at 500 to 550; short transportation distance and a low number of students transported; a review of the physical facility with the maximum age of a school at 40 years, and economical operating costs and savings.
"We wanted quality education to be a criteria," said Goldstein. "The task force refused. All five schools voted us down. They said you couldn't measure it. But of the six schools, College park came in No. 1 of all of them in the lowa Tests of Basic Skills standard test."
Johnson admits she would have preferred to include quality education in the criteria. "It is a criteria that maybe I personally would have wanted to include. But quality is very difficult to measure with schools of varying population. College Park is a community of upper middle class families, A school like Spring Hill Lake has a mixed bag of professional and low income."
principal Lusby disagrees that College Park is a "special school." More than 130 children are bused each day to College Park from the Chapel Oaks area, a predominantly black, lower-income community.
"We see lots of differences in the children who come to us," said Lusby. "As we are getting the younger children, they are doing much better than their older brothers and sisters. We are getting them from kindergarten now. As far as comments from parents, they are thrilled about the school."
College Park is a 39-year-old school with a capacity for 300 students. The media center (library and audio-visual facilities), reading room and music room are converted classrooms. Renovations were slated to begin in June for a gymnasium/multipurpose room, kitchen, media center, administration suite, kindergarten, music room and some modifications on existing classrooms. The state recently reduced appropriated funds for the renovations from $739,000 to $500,000.
The task force used the reduction in funds as a reason for closing College Park, suggesting that major items like air conditioning would deleted and that renovation would further reduce the capacity at College Park to 270 students.
The majority report also said that the school had a high percentage of bus-riders, is on a busy street, that there is a projected decline in enrollment, that the building is old and that the county could use the state renovation money in a more beneficial manner.
"The College Park task force members don't buy that this declining enrollment picture will continue," said Goldstein. "Many people who live here are all original owners of their homes, with at leat 50 per cent over 60. A good portion of these people will leave in five years. That, plus an urban renewal project planned nearby with a 1979 end-projection, will bring about 160 school-age children into the area."