QUESTION: How is crowding affecting the quality of education in the county schools? What should the Board of Education do about it?
(1 seat; top two vote-getters will run in November election)
Neil L. Brierley
Susan J. Cook
Sandra H. French
Leanna M. Barnes Webster Neil L. Brierley 10228 Clubhouse Ct., Ellicott City Age: 33
Engineer, Ford Aerospace; MS in computer science, Johns Hopkins University, 1983; BS in mathematics, physical science and engineering, University of Maryland, 1980; past president, Exchange Club of Catonsville, 1988; secretary, Exchange Club of Howard County, 1990; Western Howard County Youth Association baseball coach, 1990, basketball coach, 1989; member, Parent Teacher Association; member, Boumi Temple; married with two children in Howard County Public Schools.
A. The Howard County Board of Education must deal with the continuing growth of the school-age population. Class sizes are too large and the number of students in each school has exceeded the capacity of our schools. Proper and timely planning of new schools is the first step in dealing with this urgent problem. Since the number of students is rising, we must increase the number of teachers. More teachers necessitate more classrooms and more schools. We need sufficient "building" blocks to accommodate the county's growth. Susan J. Cook 6508 Spelling Bee, Columbia Age: 42
President, Parent Teacher Student Association, Oakland Mills High School, 1988-90; president, Parent Teacher Association, Dasher Green Elementary School, 1986-88; president, Parent Teacher Association, Owen Brown Middle School, 1984-86; seminar leader on Parental Involvement for National Middle School Association, 1988, 1989 and 1990; seminar leader for Maryland Middle School Association at Chesapeake College; wrote Department of Education's publication, "Focus" on parental involvement, 1989; member, Oakland Mills High Drug & Alcohol Task Force; community activities include Scouts, sports, band and orchestra; charities include Grant-a-Wish and FISH (organized fund-raisers); initiated "Seats Available" at high school level.
A. The quality is interrupted because of the negative impact on the student and the teachers' ability to instruct. Distractions, discipline problems and difficulty in maintaining control of a large group are the natural fallout of overcrowded conditions. Inadequate school resources and inability to give individual assistance and attention to students are real conditions experienced in larger than acceptable classes. Furthermore, these conditions may not motivate the system's most productive teachers to remain in the school system. The Board of Education's major challenge is to accommodate the county's growth potential while providing quality education. Use of portable classrooms must be continued. I support the construction of re-adaptive, multi-use core facilities. Both options mandate hiring additional teachers and support staff. Reducing overcrowding will cost additional dollars. An increase in the budget will be necessary to achieve these results. Sandra H. French 12249 Carroll Mill Rd., Ellicott City Age: 46
Substitute teacher, Howard County Public School system; former English teacher, Anne Arundel County Public School system; president, Parent Teacher Association Council of Howard County, 1986-88; vice president for legislation, Maryland State Parent Teacher Association, 1988-present; volunteer on 12 Howard County education committees, 1985-90; two children in Howard County public schools; AB, Muhlenberg College, 1965; master's equivalent, 1971, Maryland State Department of Education; National Parent Teacher Association Honorary Award, 1990; Governor's Volunteer Service Recognition, 1988; Howard County Unsung Hero Recognition, 1988; Outstanding Maryland Volunteer, 1984 and 1986; president, Glenelg High School Parent Teacher Student Association, 1989-90.
A. How children learn best and effective ways to teach them a challenging curriculum should determine a school's space usage. Of necessity, a square footage formula has taken precedence. Educators attempt to assure an equitable, quality education, but compromises exist. Parental concerns include teaching/testing in hallways, closets and stages, fewer writing and computer experiences and reduced enrichment activities. Needed programs are delayed due to growth demands on the operating budget and the increasing debt service from new school construction. The school board should keep schools child-centered by determining space usage according to children's educational needs, support adequate public facilities legislation when growth negatively affects the educational program, rent more portable classrooms from the state, approve fast-track construction of schools, assign additional support personnel for increased student counseling, discipline or parent communication and provide flexible scheduling through evening or Saturday school so more students could be accommodated. Dave Rakes 9202 Mellenbrook Rd., Columbia Age: 53
Coordinator of University Programs, U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Research and University Relations/Bureau for Science and Technology; Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors, 1987-90; chairman and member, Longreach Community Association Board of Directors, 1982-87; chairman and member, Howard County Housing Board, 1979-87; co-chair, Citizens for East-Side Library; Howard County Family YMCA Board of Directors; Ellicott City Middle and Oakland Mills High Parent Teacher Associations; Howard County Solid-Waste Recycling Committee; Columbia Forum Nominating Committee; married with two children, graduates of Howard County schools; vice president, Columbia Chapter Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; graduate of Bowie State University.
A. Unprecedented population pressures have caused a general reduction in quality of life areas throughout the county. The significant growth in the school-age population, therefore, has impacted directly on the educational system's high standards of quality. Classroom sizes and school capacities are formulated in a manner to maximize the students' learning experience while enhancing the effectiveness of the teachers. Studies show that once optimum levels are exceeded, regardless of the caliber of the environment, student performance drops off. Through the effective use of such technologies as relocatable classrooms and limited new construction, the county is responding to the short-term problem. However, the future viability of the county's educational system will be determined to a large extent by the effectiveness of its growth management efforts. Education should be the centerpiece of all land-use decisions. Leanna M. Barnes Webster 3316 Shady Lane, Glenwood Age: 61
Teacher, Howard County schools; elementary principal, assistant principal, reading team leader, reading specialist, Howard County schools; assistant professor, English, Coppin State College, Baltimore; reading specialist, Baltimore County Board of Education, Towson; writing participant, Challenge Reading Curriculum Guide for county; writing participant, Eighth Grade Talent Pool Curriculum Guide for county; GED instructor; eighth-grade interdisciplinary team leader, Wilde Lake Middle School.
A. First and foremost, overcrowding limits the amount of teacher-student interaction in the classroom. Too much time can be devoted to discipline/control rather than instruction/participation. Students feel less a part of the learning environment, which results in a passive rather than an active learner. Teachers are not able to accommodate the varied learning styles of their students when the classroom is overcrowded. Activities are limited due to lack of space. Teacher and student creativity is stifled, causing problems for at-risk students, which often results in failure. The Board of Education must work closely with the county as it relates to growth and school construction. In order to ensure the continuance of quality education in the county, it is imperative that we have adequate facilities if the school system is to maintain its level of delivery to the students it serves.