State Agency Considers Funding New Elementary School

January 13, 1991|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

Students at Prospect Mill Elementary probably don't even know what the state Interagency Committee for School Construction does.

But the IAC staff has taken a step that should improve the learning environment at the school within a few years.

The IAC staff has recommended the approval of $3.4 million for construction of one elementary school in Harford County and approval ofthe planning of a second school.

The recommended new school wouldbe a 600-student building located on Route 543; the school the IAC staff recommended that planning start on would be located in the Belcamp-Riverside area.

A new Route 543 elementary school is badly needed to relieve overcrowding at three area schools, especially ProspectMill Elementary, says Albert Seymour, spokesman for the county school system.

Right now, the school, located on Prospect Mill Road, isalmost 200 students over capacity, said principal Daniel Harner. Capacity at the school is 705, and the school already has 895 students.

County school administrators have estimated the Prospect Mill school population will grow by 100 students a year, Harner says.

That means Prospect Mill could have almost 1,000 students by the time the new elementary school is ready for students in 1993.

The growth came fast and somewhat unexpectedly, Harner says.

"At one point, notso long ago, they were going to close our school because the area wasn't growing. All of a sudden this growth came around Route 543, and now we're expanding by leaps and bounds."

Warner manages to run a school with a student population the size of many two-building schools in the county, with the assistance of one full-time and one part-time secretary and one half-time assistant principal. But that's not aneasy task.

"The parents and kids handle it well," he says. "But it's just very difficult. We have one gym, one library and one cafeteria to house and feed all these people.

"All the teacher planning rooms are gone, being used for classes or resource rooms. Every available space is being used."

The proposed 600-student elementary school also would relieve crowded conditions at Bel Air Elementary and Homestead/Wakefield Elementary, both serving the Bel Air area.

The new building would be located on Route 543, adjacent to the Green Ridge II development, just south of the Route 22 intersection, said Seymour.

Yale Stenzler, executive director of the IAC, said that a formal decision to approve construction money for the school has not yet been made, only recommended by the staff.

However, the committee almost invariably approves the staff recommendations, he added.

TheIAC will vote on the recommendations Jan. 22, Stenzler said. The projects then need approvalfrom the state Board of Public Works and spending approval from the General Assembly.

The state pays for 65 percent of the construction costs, leaving the counties to come up with 35 percent of the money.

School administrators are asking the county for $2.75 million -- about $1.9 million for its share of the construction cost, and $244,500 to hire an architect and about $526,500 for equipment and furniture.

The request was included in the $15.5 million capital improvement budget proposal for fiscal year 1992, saidSeymour.

The Belcamp-Riverside area school the IAC staff recommended be approved for planning would be eligible for state money in 1992-1993, Stenzler said.

The proposed 500-student school would require about $3.4 million in construction money, he said.

The Belcamp school is slated to open in August of 1994, if approved. The county school system has asked the county for $368,535 to plan that school. Counties must foot all of the planning costs for schools.

The county has sent a letter to the IAC supporting the new school, but it has not yet designated any money for the planning process.

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