Sharon Whitmore was among the crowd of parents cheering Monday night's school board decision to ask the County Council for another $6.2 million to pay for North County High.
Board members were given the choice of seeking the additional money, to ensure the school is builtlarge enough to house children in grades 9-12 from Brooklyn Park andAndover high schools, or keep the request at $11.4 million and receive a scaled down version of the school.
"I'm really happy that they went for it," said Whitmore, a spokeswoman for the North County Coalition. "We do have the support of (Councilman George) Bachman. It's not like we will dry up and go away."
Neither North County parents nor the problem of achieving equity for students from the two small high schools are going away quietly.
The school board and County Council thought the issue was resolved when, after much debate, several hearings and a $150,000 study by a Washington-based educational consultants, both sides agreed to merging their schools. Renovations are planned for the Lindale Junior High building so it can house the new school.
The plan to merge the schools was drawn up because the student body of either was too small to offer a wide variety of course options. The merger would create a highschool of 1,800 students.
County Executive Robert R. Neall has requested $2.8 million in his proposed $16.8 million capital budget fornext year. And students in grades 10-12 from both schools already are taking classes at Andover.
But some school board members appeared frustrated Tuesday when Mike Raible, director of planning and construction, outlined what would be missing from the school if only $11.4million were approved. The building would be too small to include ninth-graders, have no auditorium or stadium and only a small cafeteria.
Board member Patricia Huecker was angered by what she described as misleading information given at the time she voted to send the initial request to the county executive.
"I certainly voted for the $11 million," Huecker said. "I participated in five more votes, and upuntil two months ago that ($11 million) was enough."
Raible attributed the increases to recent findings that asbestos removal will mean higher construction costs and more work than originally anticipatedto transform Lindale.
"As the design process became more definitive, we were able to get actual costs," Raible said. "We have more details than we had."
Board members voted reluctantly to approve the increased request at the urging of School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton.
"Why would we fool around with anything less than $17.6 million?" Lorton asked board members as they pondered the decision. "Deal with cash flow issues with County Council when we get there."
The 35 parents attending the school board meeting Tuesday sporting badgesin support of North County High now plan to take their battle to theCounty Council.
"Time is critical. Project costs are going up, and children are being negatively impacted. They are now becoming voters, and they won't forget," Whitmore said.