Fourteen Anne Arundel County schools with enrollments less than 60 percent of their capacities have been targeted for preliminary consideration for closure next June.
The county Board of Education is expected to announce on Aug. 6 which, if any, of the 12 elementary schools and two middle schools, scattered throughout the 65,000-pupil school district, will be considered for closure.
The list of severely underenrolled schools was presented to the school board Wednesday by Superintendent Edward J. Anderson, who estimated that each closure would save the county from $110,000 to $536,000, with a combined savings of almost $3 million annually.
Board of Education President John Wobensmith said, "There probably are going to be some schools on that list that the board will want to take a close look at in terms of closing."
Half of the elementary schools to be examined are along the Baltimore city or county line; the other eight schools are scattered throughout the county.
If the board decides to pursue closure of any schools, it would trigger a long and complicated process of review and public hearings culminating next February in a final decision by the board, according to Wobensmith.
Before arriving at a final decision, the superintendent's staff would hold informal meetings with parent, school and community groups between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15, and the school board would conduct public hearings in December.
The Anne Arundel public schools, in keeping with a national trend, have been declining in enrollment for the past eight years after reaching a peak enrollment in 1975 of 78,000, said school planner Vincent O. Leggett. Enrollment declines are expected to taper off by 1986 to 61,000, but a significant turnaround is not expected in the next 10 years, according to state and county projections.
While the county has not closed any public schools so far because of underenrollment, two years ago Anderson launched an unsuccessful effort to close as many as 10 underenrolled schools that resulted instead in bad feelings between the superintendent and the County Council.
Public opposition to the closures had been heavy, according to school officials, and parent groups appealed to the County Council, which adopted a nonbinding resolution declaring its opposition to the closings.
Nonetheless, the board plans to take up the issue regardless of whether the council and the superintendent resolve their differences. "School closings are the province of the board. It's the legal duty of the board to deal with these problems," Wobensmith said.