School board members lamented Monday the problem of crowding in the county's public schools.
The space crunch arose during a worried discussion about a capital budget item for 1992-1993 requesting approval to purchase 14 relocatable classrooms for Prospect Mill ElementarySchool.
The temporary classrooms are needed in the 1993 school year, whenthe school -- which already has 201 students more than its 705 maximum -- is projected to be far over capacity, with 200 pre-kindergartenstudents and 1,115 students in grades one through five. As of April 30, the school had 906 students.
At Monday's school board meeting,several board members said they feared that relocatable classrooms were temporary solutions to the crowding problem.
"Alternatives to 14 mobile classrooms have got to be put on the table," said board member Anne Sterling.
Said Violet Merryman, "It's not desirable to make elementary schools so large."
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Alden Halsey, who presented the proposed 1992-1993 capital budget list, agreed.
"We view the relocatables as highly undesirable," Halsey said. "But we don't have other alternatives."
He said school administrators had discussed three options to create more space at the school: relocatable classrooms, teaching some Prospect Mill fifth-grade students at Southampton Middle School, or trying to find rental space close to the school.
The Southampton option was rejected because that school will be at capacity when students are shifted there from surrounding middle schools as part of a redistricting plan, he said. And the board doesn't yet know whether the county Health Departmentwould allow more relocatables at Prospect Mill.
Other items on the proposed 1992-1993 capital budget list included furniture and equipment for the new Route 543 elementary school, money for a new Belcamparea elementary school and land for a new Route 24 South elementary school. No dollar amounts were included in the proposal. Also requested was planning money for a Forest Lake elementary school, a replacement boiler at Bel Air High School and an addition to Bel Air Middle School.
Added Sterling: "Another discussion we need to hold as a county is the proposed addition to Bel Air Middle School. It's going tomake a middle school which is just enormous."
She noted that Howard County has limited the size of its middle schools to 500 because "many people feel it's inappropriate to create a middle school that would be large for a high school.