A report by county school officials detailing overcrowded schools may have put the issue of school redistricting to rest -- for now.
The study, unveiled yesterday by Michael Raible, director of planning and construction for the Board of Education, concludes the county needs to spend twice what it does now to build and renovate deteriorating schools.
The board receives about $15 million a year for school construction and renovation. But the report said that renovating county schoolsover a 40-year period would cost about $19.5 million a year. Building new schools to keep up with a growing school-age population would cost an additional $11.5 million a year.
"The problem is far worse than any of us realized," Raible told a joint meeting of the County Council and the Board of Education yesterday. "Every year we spend less than $32 million, we're falling behind."
Raible also said schoolredistricting -- shifting as many as 15,000 students to fill empty seats in other school districts -- would result in county schools being filled to capacity in three years.
County Auditor Joseph Novotnyhad proposed school redistricting as a way of stopping new construction while the county renovated existing schools.
But Raible's report, co-authored by school Planning Officer George Hatch, said redistricting wouldn't ease overcrowding long enough to make much of a difference, and the county would have to spend considerably more on renovations to make any progress.
Novotny said officials should decide soon what to do about overcrowding.
"Thirty million dollars is simply too much," Novotny said. "If not redistricting, then there has to be another way. We've got to sit down in the next year and plan what's going to happen in the next 10 years, because every year we wait puts you further behind the eight-ball."
After the meeting, Council Chairwoman Virginia Clagett, D-West River, said the board's report most likely will put to rest the issue of school redistricting.
"We still have a major problem as to how to fund construction and renovation," Clagett said.