Howard Co. plans for new schools Hickey budget seems 'doable,' Ecker says

September 21, 1991|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

To keep pace with galloping enrollment, the Howard County School superintendent has proposed spending $189.5 million over the next six years on school construction, renovations and improvements.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, in a capital budget released yesterday, requested about $40.7 million of that total for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1992.

The 31,310-student system, which has opened five schools in the last three years, estimates that it will add 9,272 students by the year 2000.

The county's enrollment estimate is conservative compared with the state's, which calls for a 52 percent increase in enrollment in the next nine years, said William J. Brown, county director of school planning and construction.

"Howard County schools are the most rapidly growing in Maryland," Mr. Hickey said. "People are telling us to cut back like we are a business in decline, and we are not."

Mr. Hickey has proposed opening 13 schools and an environmental center and expanding two schools over the next eight years to accommodate that growth.

Two proposed high schools will be the biggest ticket items. A high school slated to open on Trotter Road in Clarksville in September 1994 will cost $24 million. Another high school, slated for 1996, for which a location has not been determined, will cost $30 million.

Of the approximately $40.7 million requested yesterday, $21.4 million would come from the county; $3.2 million from property transfer taxes; and $16 million from the state.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker said that the request for county money "appears to be doable, although we won't know for sure until we receive an analysis on our bonding limits for this year." In the current fiscal year, the county authorized $55 million in bonds, $22 million of it for school construction.

Under the superintendent's capital proposals for the fiscal 1993 through 1998, the following schools are planned:

* 1993 -- Northeast Elementary, in the Rockburn Park area off Old Montgomery Road near Elkridge, and a western middle school, site undetermined.

* 1994 -- Western High School, on Trotter Road in Clarksville, a northern elementary, site undetermined, and an addition to Longfellow Elementary in Columbia.

* 1995 -- A western elementary, site undetermined, a northeastern middle school, site undetermined, and an environmental center where students will learn about nature, in Middle Patuxent Valley off Trotter Road.

* 1996 -- A high school, site undetermined, to house students from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, which will be renovated and expanded, and a northeast elementary school, site undetermined.

* 1997 -- Wilde Lake High School will reopen, and a western elementary school, site undetermined.

* 1999 -- Replacement of Ellicott Mills Middle School in the Ellicott City area.

Next school year, two elementary schools -- a replacement for Elkridge Elementary on Lawyers Hill Road and Southeast

Elementary on Gorman Road -- will open along with Burleigh Manor Middle School on Centennial Lane in Ellicott City. The three schools will cost $31 million.

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