MANCHESTER — Even with the County Commissioners' backing, a second Manchester elementary school is at least three to five years down the road, Carrollschool officials said.
Because of various tasks involved in the planning and construction of a new school, including state approval ofdesign and building specifications, the project will take a few years, said Lester P. Surber, Carroll's supervisor of school facilities/planning.
The County Commissioners, responding to concerns of the Manchester Town Council, last week approved the elementary school project, to be financed with or without state assistance, and urged the school board to move ahead with the project.
"We're looking forward to having the project accelerated," Surber said.
Pending school board approval, plans for the new facility, which would alleviate overcrowdingin that attendance area, may be moved higher on the district's construction priority list. The project is currently No. 18.
Two monthsago, the school board rebuffed pressure from Manchester officials tomove the project forward. The project is slated for state planning recognition in fiscal 1997, and the building would not be completed until the year 2000.
Board member Ann M. Ballard said she didn't want to comment on what the board would do until she had reviewed enrollment projections and other materials.
"I have concerns about how it might affect other projects," said board member Carolyn L. Scott. "My understanding was that the student population wasn't there to move(plans for) the school up."
She said many schools in the districtare overcrowded, but Manchester "has been very vocal about its needs." Unfortunately, there is not enough money to fund all the projects."
"We can't do as much as we'd like," she said.
The other threeboard members could not be reached for comment.
The commissionerssaid that a possible building moratorium in the Manchester school attendance area could be averted by their approval of the project and provision of construction money. A site has been secured, said commissioners, who are committed to providing money for the project if statedollars don't come through.
Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy Jr. said the school board has not responded to the commissioners' action. However, he said he expected the board would favor the project's upgradedstanding.
"I think they'll go along with it," he said.
The existing Manchester Elementary School ended the school year with an enrollment of 967 students. Enrollment will drop to about 800 in the fallwhen about 150 students will be transferred to Hampstead and the newSpring Garden elementary schools.
The Manchester school's capacity is 720 students.
Overcrowding also will be eased by the continued use of portable units, said Principal Bonnie L. Ferrier.
"It's not as bad as it was," she said. "As long as we have portable classrooms, the overcrowding will be alleviated. We have a good class size --close to the county average of 25 to 26 students to a class."
Thecommissioners' decision to move ahead with the project was a surprise to Marie Murphy, a Millers resident whose daughter attends Manchester Elementary.
Murphy and her husband, William, were among a groupof Manchester-area parents who opposed the redistricting of studentsto Spring Garden and who earlier this year urged the board to move ahead with a second elementary school in the area.
"There's definitely a need for another school," she said. "It's interesting the (commissioners) made that decision."