MARYLAND

Prince George's Details School Policing

Prince George's County leaders outlined their plan yesterday to put uniformed, armed police officers in the county's 20 high schools, calling it a way to help make parents and students feel safer.

The plan, made possible by a $2.3 million federal grant, will have the officers in the buildings by the end of the school year, School Superintendent Iris T. Metts said. The officers will be trained to work with young people. While they will have authority to make arrests, they also will teach a drug and alcohol awareness course to ninth-graders.

All high schools already have two security guards and a peer-mediation counselor, and they will continue in their positions. Although the additional officers come at a time when there is heightened sensitivity to school safety after shootings across the country, Metts said, "This is not to say we're going to panic in view of those incidents."

Weast Urges Rejecting Charter School

Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast is recommending denial of the county's first charter school application, saying it lacks details about the admissions process, finances and management of the proposed school.

The biggest problem, Weast wrote to the county Board of Education in a letter that will be released today, was simply lack of space.

"I realize the difficulty facing any applicant interested in opening a charter school because Montgomery County public schools are facing some of the same issues of inadequate space and too little money," Weast wrote.

The board will hear from supporters of the proposed Jaime Escalante charter school today but is not expected to act on the proposal until later. The board received the application Sept. 13 and it was reviewed by an evaluation panel. That panel also recommended denying the application.

The group submitting the application includes 18 parents and teachers who want to open a combined middle and high school that would focus on minority students and enroll as many as 600 students. The group wants to locate the school in the vacant former Montgomery Hills Junior High School building off Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.

Proposal for Enrollment Projections

The Prince George's County Planning Commission, which has been criticized for the way it projects public student enrollment, will probably be further scrutinized under a proposal scheduled to go before the County Council today.

Wary of the projection methodology used by the commission, Prince George's County Council Chairman M.H. Jim Estepp (D-Croom) plans to ask his colleagues to require the commission to come up with a way for the public to review and comment on school-by-school enrollment projections and the method used to develop them.

Estepp's proposal also calls for the commission to hold the review and comment session before adapting its enrollment projections.

County planners have used one method of projecting enrollment, while school officials have used another.

The issue has become a hot topic among many civic activists and parents who say that new home construction--especially in areas such as Bowie, Mitchellville and Upper Marlboro--is crowding schools.

VIRGINIA

Officials Meet to Talk About Terrorism

About 90 public safety leaders from Virginia have gathered in Williamsburg for a two-day conference on how they might respond to a terrorist threat.

"We have no reason to believe that the commonwealth is now or will become the target of terrorists," the state police superintendent, Col. M. Wayne Huggins, said as the session began yesterday. "However, we also know that we are not now nor ever will be immune from a terrorist attack."

The conference's purpose is not to induce fear but to inform and to get information from police and fire chiefs and other local emergency officials, who would be the first to respond to a terrorist attack, said Bruce C. Morris, chief deputy secretary of public safety for Virginia.

Virginia Tech President Named

Charles W. Steger, an engineer and architect who has been an administrator at Virginia Tech since 1981, was selected yesterday to be university president by the Board of Visitors.

Steger, 52, established Virginia Tech study centers in Alexandria and Switzerland while serving as dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. While he was vice president for development and university relations, his team of fund-raisers exceeded the $250 million goal of the university's six-year campaign by 35 percent.

A university statement said he will succeed Paul E. Torgersen, retiring after six years as president of the university in Blacksburg, on Jan. 1.

THE DISTRICT

School to Close for Asbestos Cleanup

The District's Malcolm X Elementary School will be closed for about two weeks so workers can clean up hazardous asbestos that officials said was discovered after recent water damage at the school.

Students should report to the school this morning. They will be bused to Hamilton School at 1401 Brentwood Pkwy. NE, where classroom space is available.

Removal of the asbestos--a material once used in building insulation--began last night, said school officials. They plan to meet with parents at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at Green Elementary School, 1500 Mississippi Ave. SE, to answer questions about the situation.

Malcolm X, a 755-student school at 1351 Alabama Ave. SE, is the third D.C. school this year to be shut for asbestos removal. Johnson Junior High School was closed just before school started this fall, and Phelps Career High School was closed two weeks ago. Students from those schools are attending classes in other D.C. school buildings.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I would always say, 'I have an odor in my house, and it won't hurt my feelings if you want to leave.' It takes an hour to take the tour."

-- Kristin Kierig, who keeps 104 cats in an Annandale town house and gives tours for cat fanciers.