Board of Education Approves Eastwood Elementary Closure

Superintendent Dallas Dance officially recommended the closure at a late-January board meeting.

(Update 11:10 p.m.)— Following , the Baltimore County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve a proposal by Superintendent Dallas Dance to close the Eastwood Elementary School facility.

"I think ultimately in our roles as board members to look at education opportunities for students we just felt [the Eastwood STEM magnet program] is an exceptional program that should be expanded," Board President Lawrence Schmidt said after the vote.

Dance's recommendation calls for Eastwood's program to be merged with Holabird Middle School and Norwood Elementary School as a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school housed on the Holabird Middle and Norwood campuses effective in the 2013-2014 school year called the Holabird STEM Academy.

The superintendent has said on multiple occassions that the intent of the consolidation is to expand the Eastwood program to more students. He noted Tuesday that about 100 students were on the waiting list to participate in the school's STEM magnet program.

Eight board members voted in favor of the proposal, and new member Romaine Williams and H. Edward Parker, who represents the Dundalk area, abstained. Board member Roger Janssen was absent.

Pre-kindergarten through third grade would be based at Norwood, and fourth through eighth at Holabird.

Parents of Dundalk area students were first notified of plans for the merger at a December 2012 meeting. Since then, Eastwood parents have campaigned against the school's closure—staging protests, speaking at board and county council meetings.

The parents have also accused the school system of bending to the will of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is actively working to sell off property to construct new county facilities to replace aging infrastructure.

Schmidt said he understands the parents concerns, but rebuked criticism that he or any of the other board members were influenced by Kamenetz.

"I didn't make this decision to agree with Kevin Kamenetz," he said.

The superintendent cited timing the consolidation with the full implementation of the Common Core standards, the desire to extend the program to more students as quickly as possible. 

Additionally, Dance pointed out that the closure would save the school system approximately $700,000 a year. The savings from first year following Eastwood's closure would go towards technology upgrades at Holabird STEM Academy.

"This is about bringing an exciting new concept to that area in the county," he said.

John March 06, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I believe this was a done deal long before it was announced in December. The county executive made plans to sell off the North Point property a long time ago. My question is, where will all the programs - other than the police department - be moved? I don't believe there is another location that can handle the sports and other groups currently using North Point. And I will restate my comments from before: the Eastwood site is a completely useless placement for the Dundalk police precinct. All backroom government dealings.
alance March 06, 2013 at 01:38 AM
very unfortunate...and poorly executed by those in power.
Roxane March 06, 2013 at 02:46 AM
We can all say with certainty that in no way, shape or form do 9 year old 4th graders belong with 13 and 14 year olds all day long. I can imagine the bullying already. But this is Dundalk, no one in Towson cares about it.
JDStuts March 06, 2013 at 04:07 AM
If only there was a councilperson to tell the Exec these actions will never be approved by the council. By law, the County Executive can only propose these sales. All actions must be approved by Council. Should they reject them...well that would be checks and balances. What an interesting idea.
JD1 March 06, 2013 at 04:14 AM
What's sad is that this really has the potential to be a truly innovative opportunity for students. Unfortunately, the way that this all unfolded was a mess. Instead of working with the staff and community to create and communicate an innovative vision for the new school, the concept was rolled out by a handful of idiots and was a PR nightmare. I hope that the process takes a positive turn and results in a great school for all involved.
JD1 March 06, 2013 at 04:16 AM
Really - the private schools in the area seem to be doing fine (they are all K-8). Maybe it's not the kids that are the problem.
cary quintana March 06, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I grew up going to a couple of K-8 schools. It's not like the 4th graders are in the same classroom as the older kids. There is a little interaction in the halls and they see one another during break. All in all it was a good experience for socialization during the formative years. Ultimately better for the kids. Now, what they are planning for the space once it is vacant, what is going to take it's place, etc etc... all remains to be seen.
Pamela Pfeifer March 06, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Really Roxana - Well Karma is a bitch. I'm sure when everyone in TOWSON re-elect Kameneass you'll get yours again. Whether it be another playground or schools.
Tim Edgemere March 06, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Lets all remember these shady actions come election time...Our voice in Johnny O is never heard..he is just going along with whatever Kevin wants him to do because he knows he will get his turn when Kevin's term is over. He will not make waves because they are very tight. Look at the new council members that are actually voicing their opinions and getting results for their districts !
Pamela Pfeifer March 06, 2013 at 05:47 PM
So True Tim, But if Johnny O wants a position in the future, then he shouldn't coward down to KK. He should do what's right and represent us. That will ensure a position for him in the future. Just my thought. KARMA is a bitch. That's all I have to say.
Buzz Beeler March 06, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Pam, you think that for one minuet that John did not know the outcome of this issue. Dr. Dance who hasn't even got his feet wet in dealing with the county school system and all of a sudden he has a grasp on this issue. He follows the agenda. Just ask Chief Johnson. Next the Government Center. I tell people all the time, ya got what ya voted for or in this case what failing to vote left you. I think this issue could be a death knell for the administration as the council continues to make poor decisions. I have heard that some developers have already backed out of the Government Center deal over the radio tower. The only thing that will stop this is for the voters too wake up and demand change, otherwise those in power become emboldened. Who was it in Annapolis that said let Beretta leave and the hundreds of jobs that will go with them? The arrogance of power.
Robert Frisch March 06, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Can you say elected school board?! Without the school board acquiescing to the County Executive this could never have happened. Remember the elected officials (CE and your representatives to Annapolis) that voted against the elected Board come the next election. Since the County Council still has a say in the completion of this deal remind them they can also be defeated at the next election.
Concerned Citizen March 06, 2013 at 08:56 PM
This is awesome news. Save the County $700,000 annually and open the program up to so many additional Dundalk families. Sounds like the Board did its job looking out for the masses not just one small community.
ED March 06, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Opening the "program up to so many additional Dundalk families" means other schools in the area will lose students to a magnet. Enrollment numbers matter! This decision will help to close another Dundalk school.
David Rader II March 07, 2013 at 02:08 AM
I also hope this changes towards a positive direction.
DHAMMER March 07, 2013 at 01:08 PM
All the closed door meetings and open meetings and it still didn't matter.Well Parents you just got the you know what and didn't even get a kiss.Maybe, just maybe you'll wakeup at the next election .Remember,Dance set the reason of Common Core Standards for the reason.
ED March 07, 2013 at 02:11 PM
What area school is next? Dundalk Middle
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Ashley Virginia March 15, 2013 at 08:04 PM
No the board is looking out for Kamenetz who is nothing but a coward, and so is Dance. Kamenetz put the pressure on the school board and maybe even paid them off, with tax payers dollars of course. I would love for both of them to show up in dundalk for one meeting. I will tell them both what I think of them to their face. and just remember that its going to cost massive amounts of money to transfer these students. and on top of that not all teachers have been guaranteed their jobs next year.
Steve March 15, 2013 at 08:10 PM
That's just more conspiracy theory nonsense.
Jean Suda March 15, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Calling Ashley Virginia and Dundalk area residents and school families! You will have an opportunity to tell both County Exec. Kevin Kamenetz and Supt. Dallas Dance what you think of them face to face. Kamenetz is the featured speaker at the Baltimore County PTA Council meeting this coming Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm. Meeting is at Loch Raven HS, 1212 Cowpens Rd. Baltimore 21286 (Towson) Cromwell Bridge Rd. exit off 695. The topic is "EDUCATION IN BALTIMORE COUNTY SCHOOLS". Kamenetz will "Share his thoughts on the current status of public education in Baltimore County and his ideas for its future." Questions will be accepted from the audience following his formal remarks. Be there and bring your friends. You may have to sign up before 7:30pm in order to ask a question at the meeting. So get there by 7:15pm if you want to have your say.
Buzz Beeler March 15, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Jean, good post. A lot of people probably did not know about this, especially from the east side.


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