Before the elementary school on Ducketts Lane opens in fall 2013, it needs a name, and the deadline for the Board of Education to approve one is Dec. 4.
At a school board meeting last week, board member Brian Meshkin said he was "surprised" that nobody from Elkridge Elementary School stepped forward to help with the naming of the school. The committee includes 13 members.
"This new school is really providing relief to the students and the families in Elkridge and will have a big influence on Elkridge Elementary School, yet there is nobody from Elkridge Elementary or the PTA ... or even GECA [Greater Elkridge Community Association] represented," said Meshkin. "I was surprised not to see any names" on the committee from Elkridge.
Because of this, Meshkin added the school naming committee's report to the Board of Education's agenda for its Sept. 20 meeting. "I asked that it be pulled from the Consent Agenda (which means it gets approved without discussion) because I was concerned that there was no representation from Elkridge Elementary," said Meshkin in an email to Elkridge Patch on Sept. 28.
"Have we as a school system done outreach, and they're just not interested?" asked Meshkin at the school board meeting. "They tend to be a very active, responsible group of parents; we hear from them a lot on issues."
The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) solicited volunteers to help name the Ducketts Lane school over the summer, said committee chair Arlene Harrison, who is an HCPSS elementary school administrator.
"I actually reached out to the Howard County PTA Council myself for the four schools we anticipate ... will be attending [the Ducketts Lane elementary school]," said Harrison.
Tentatively, Bellows Spring, Deep Run, Elkridge and Rockburn would shuffle students to fill the 600-seat school on Ducketts Lane in 2013, contingent on a redistricting plan the school board must approve by Nov. 15.
"As Elkridge Elementary School will be the largest contributor of students to this new school ... it is my hope that at least one person will volunteer to participate" in the naming of it, wrote Meshkin on his blog after the school board meeting.
"I can certainly reach out again," said Harrison at the meeting. She will return before the board Oct. 2 with the committee's proposal for a school name.
After the Sept. 20 school board meeting, Jennifer Lefever, president of the Elkridge Elementary School PTA, told Patch that Harrison contacted her and asked her to vote on the names the committee proposed.
Lefever told Patch she had signed up to be on the committee after Dr. Diane Mumford, principal at Elkridge Elementary, asked if Lefever would participate; but Lefever said she never heard anything after she signed up so assumed the committee hadn't convened yet.
Meshkin found out after the Sept. 20 meeting about Lefever's situation and alerted Harrison.
Committee chair Harrison "didn't know what the mixup was," said Lefever, who was given an apology last week and an opportunity to review the ideas and vote on which name to propose to the Board of Education.
"It was a good list—geographical areas, some names were [related to] the Patapsco Park and that area," said Lefever. "I couldn’t think of any other names; I didn’t have a name in mind that was super wonderful. I think they did a great job."
HCPSS currently calls the Ducketts Lane project "elementary school #41" because it is the 41st elementary school in Howard County.
Members of the naming committee for elementary school #41 include the following:
- Administrators from Bellows Spring, Deep Run and Rockburn
- PTA members from Bellows Spring, Gorman Crossing and Waterloo
- Staff from Bushy Park Elementary School
- Head Start Community Action Council's policy president
- Three central office staff for Howard County public schools
- Historian from the Howard County Historical Society
"I'm pleased that after bringing this 'gaping hole' up to staff and the board, we were able to get at least one representative," wrote Meshkin in a Sept. 28 email to Patch. "I also suggested a representative from GECA."
Students may be involved too.
"I've assumed from past committees that there's a polling of students who might be feeding into [the new school]," said Board of Education member Sandra French at the Sept. 20 school board meeting. "There will be very strong student participation, and that's part of the objective, to provide opportunities to the students."
Harrison was not immediately available for comment about student participation.
The committee's proposal for naming the Ducketts Lane elementary school will go before the board Oct. 2. A public hearing on the school's name will take place Nov. 1, and the board will vote on a name by Dec. 3, with approval by Dec. 4.
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