Thursday, May 20, 2004

Norwood studies swapping students

Some oppose Sharpsburg plan

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

NORWOOD - Educators in the Norwood Schools will spend the next three months gathering data before deciding whether to move students from the Sharpsburg Elementary campus to North Norwood in 2005.

Some residents are already against such a move.

"Tonight starts the campaign to save Sharpsburg," said Ed Casagrande.

Superintendent Steve Collier said the move is being considered for several reasons. Students from K-2 at Sharpsburg have to cross Smith Road to the 3-6 school for physical education, music and art classes or to use the library. The road, Collier said, is getting busier as more businesses move in.

"It's very scary. You hope they stop at the stoplight,'' Collier said.

Operating one building for students in grades K-6 instead of two would eliminate some positions and, with the installation of an elevator at North Norwood, allow the district to move some special-needs elementary students to a second school. Now they all attend classes at Norwood View Elementary because it is the only elementary school with an elevator.

The move is also being studied as part of a review of attendance areas for each elementary school. Boundaries might be altered to relieve crowding at Norwood View and to more equally distribute students among the buildings.

Should the move be made, the county program for special-needs students with behavior problems could move from its rented space at North Norwood to Sharpsburg. The primary building could be used for preschool, Head Start and other classes.

Collier stressed that no decision would be made until data are collected and presented to the community in August or September. "It is possible we could look at where the kids are and decide it won't work,'' Collier said. "We have a lot of unanswered questions."

Resident Alliea Phipps said she questions some of Collier's statements and has concerns if the North Norwood program moves to Sharpsburg.

"There's a big difference in having an elementary school and a high-risk facility in your neighborhood,'' Phipps said.

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