Baltimore Co. wants former school back

January 08, 1991|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

The Baltimore County school board giveth and now it wants to taketh back.

In 1983, the Board of Education gave the old Lutherville Elementary School to the county government because its enrollment had dwindled. Now enrollment is surging, and the board wants the building back so it can reopen the school in September 1992.

The alternative is to seek state financing to build new schools or additions to existing buildings, no easy task in this time of financial austerity, said James E. Kraft, director of school planning.

The school system had already received approval to use $1.4 million in county bond money to build an addition to Hampton Elementary, also in Lutherville, but it needed additional state money for the project.

"It seemed unlikely we would get state approval," Mr. Kraft said.

So instead, the school board voted late last month to use more than $1.2 million of the bond money to rehabilitate and equip the old Lutherville Elementary, in the 1700 block of York Road.

The remaining $150,000 will be used to help buy land for a future elementary school in northern Baltimore County, Mr. Kraft said.

School administrators also decided to cancel plans to use about $1.7 million in bond money for adding 10 rooms to four county schools. Instead, it will use the bond money to buy 43 portable classrooms for county elementary schools, Mr. Kraft said.

The school system needs county approval to reclaim Lutherville Elementary, which has a capacity for 500 students. The county would have to include plans to give the building back to the school system in its budget for the coming year.

Nicholas Stinnato, the education liaison for County Executive Roger B. Hayden, could not be reached yesterday for comment on whether the administration would favor or oppose returning the building.

The old Lutherville Elementary has been used for several purposes by the county since it closed.

A Fire Department investigation and training unit moved into a wing of the building in 1984, but has relocated to the new public safety building, the former Blue Cross-Blue Shield building in the 700 block of East Joppa Road.

The Department of Recreation and Parks uses it for many activities, including an art center for adults and dance classes. Space also is leased to a community theater group and an actors group, and the Department of Aging has a crafts gallery there for senior citizens to display and sell their work.

"There are a lot of programs that serve literally thousands of people," said Robert Mclelland, a supervisor for the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Community leaders also expressed concern about losing the building.

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