Any high school student who wants a parking permit must now complete an evening class on driving safety. Students must attend the 90-minute session with a parent or guardian. The program, already operating at River Hill High School, is being implemented systemwide in response to the number of deadly car accidents involving teens that have occurred in Howard and Montgomery counties in recent years. These classes will take place through Sept. 14. For more information about times and dates, contact each high school.

Varsity Swimming Sought

A group of parents and students was expected to argue at today's sessions of the Howard County Board of Education that swimming should become a varsity sport. The meetings were scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Department of Education, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City. Although swimming has long been a competitive sport in Howard, with thousands of children competing annually in leagues, it has never been a varsity high school sport. None of the county's 12 high schools has a pool.

Open Houses and a Ribbon Cutting

Open houses at Cedar Lane School and Marriotts Ridge High School will be held Sunday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. at the new Cedar Lane School, next to Lime Kiln Middle School, 11650 Scaggsville Rd. in Fulton. The festivities for the school, which serves disabled students, will continue until 3 p.m.

Marriotts Ridge High School, the county's 12th high school, will open for students in ninth and 10th grades. An open house will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the school, 12100 Woodford Dr., Marriottsville.

School Lunch Price Increase

School lunch prices will increase by 25 cents for the 2005-06 school year. The basic lunch price will be $1.75 in elementary school and $2 in middle and high school. High schools offer the signature lunch and the coach's corner fare for $2.75.

The school system allows parents or guardians to pay for the year, through an installment plan, or meals can be purchased daily by students. Free and reduced-price meals offered through the National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program are available for students who live in households that meet federal income guidelines. Applications will be sent home with students Monday.

Back-to-School-Night Schedule

Back to School Nights at all county schools will take place throughout September. For a complete schedule, visit www.hcpss.org and click on "What's New."

New Teachers by the Hundreds

Howard County public schools will welcome about 500 new teachers to its 70 schools for the 2005-06 year. An additional 124 positions were created this year largely because of the opening of Marriotts Ridge High School. As of last week, school officials said about 20 full-time positions had not be filled.

All-Day Kindergarten Expands

All-day kindergarten will be phased in at 12 more Howard County elementary schools this year. They are: Bellow Springs, Bollman Bridge, Deep Run, Elkridge, Forest Ridge, Guilford, Hollifield Station, Jeffers Hill, Longfellow, Manor Woods, St. John Lane and Swansfield. Last year, all day sessions began at Bryant Woods, Cradlerock, Laurel Woods, Phelps Luck, Running Brook, Stevens Forest and Talbott Spring elementary schools.

The remaining 19 elementary schools will offer full-day kindergarten classes within the next two years to meet the state mandate that all kindergarten classes in Maryland offer full-day programs by 2007.

High School Credit for Advanced Classes

Middle school students who take advanced classes in math and foreign languages now will be eligible for high school credit. In addition, ninth-graders who took those advanced classes while in middle school also will receive high-school credit. The classes are: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-calculus, Spanish I or French I.

New Forms and Policies

Parents will find a new form in the information packets that students will bring home next week. It's a release allowing parents to prevent the school system from giving out information about a student's residence and phone number to outside organizations. The right to do that already exists, but school officials decided to highlight the option after they received numerous complaints from parents last year about military recruiters contacting students.

Also, officials are limiting this year the kind of fliers and other material that can be distributed through school. Last month, the Board of Education adopted a new policy that permits only PTA and booster clubs; state, local and federal government agencies (including the Columbia Association); and organized youth sports leagues to distribute information to students by fliers. Before this year, the school system allowed any nonprofit organization to do so.

The new policy was prompted by a 2001 court case in which a nonprofit organization, Child Evangelism Fellowship, sued Montgomery County's school system for denying permission to distribute fliers to students. The school system argued that the fliers were proselytizing and therefore violated the requirement for separation of church and state. The case is pending in court. The Howard school board is trying to clarify the county's position to head off such lawsuits.

Assistance in Locating Child Care

Free assistance in locating state licensed school-aged programs, pre-schools, child care centers and family care providers is available through LOCATE: Child Care, a program of the Howard County Child Care Resource Center in the county's Department of Citizen Services.

LOCATE is available from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, by calling 410-313-1930. Trained child care counselors will be able to assist parents in finding the right kind of care for their children.

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Bill Giblin fills the library shelves at Marriotts Ridge High School last week. Giblin works for Baker & Taylor, a company hired to provide books for the school.Above, construction earlier this month at Cedar Lane School, which serves disabled Howard County students. The school cost about $20 million to build and will open Monday. Left, Sue Bell, a preschool team leader at Cedar Lane, stands amid boxes of educational supplies she has collected over 25 years of teaching. "I can't wait" for school to start, she said.