Baltimore County's school upkeep put at $93 million

October 26, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Aging buildings and increasing enrollment have hit the Baltimore County schools so hard that maintaining the system will cost $93 million in the next 10 years, school officials say.

The county school board approved a proposal Thursday night to place a question on the November 1992 ballot asking voters to approve issuing $93 million in bonds to maintain, repair and improve schools and to build six new ones.

James E. Kraft, manager of the Office of Planning, said enrollment increases will mandate $43 million for construction of six schools, additions to another 10 and modernization projects at about 20 others.

Mr. Kraft said the money is needed because of two factors: more students and old buildings.

The county school system, Maryland's fourth largest, has 89,706 students, but enrollment is projected to reach 115,000 by 1998.

Elementary enrollment has increased by 14,387 since 1983, middle school enrollment has risen by 2,870 since 1987 and high school enrollment increased by 539 this year, Mr. Kraft said.

Half of the 94 elementary schools are over capacity, he said.

Of the system's 147 schools, 122 were built before 1970 and fewer than 1 percent have been built or modernized since 1980. That means $38 million must be spent for maintenance, including $15 million for roof repairs, school officials said.

The county already uses 156 relocatable classrooms, but the enrollment increases will require 42 more at a cost of $1.6 million, according to the report approved by the board.

The plan also calls for spending $8.6 million for computers for classrooms and administrators.

The school system also needs $552,000 to buy school sites, including three in northern Baltimore County communities that are growing rapidly, Mr. Kraft said.

The report does not specify exact locations, but notes that land prices in the area are "increasing at a rapid rate."

The report is the board's request to the county government for 1992 bond money, Mr. Kraft said. It may be pared by the county executive or the County Council.

Mr. Kraft said the proposal will be forwarded to County Executive Roger B. Hayden for his review.

It will then be sent to the County Council for a final decision, which is due by May 30, 1992.

If approved by voters in November 1992, the money would be received July 1, 1993, Mr. Kraft said.

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