Officials Ask For $25 Million To Accommodate Students

February 28, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff writer

So many students will flood into the county schools and community college in the next few years that it's going to cost at least $25 million in new buildings and renovations to keep up.

That was the wordyesterday to the county Planning Advisory Board, which is reviewing capital budget requests this month as a first step in the process to come up with a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. County department heads are seeking $95 million worth of bond-financed projects and the board has been directed by County Executive RobertR. Neall to pare that amount to $60 million.

The board's recommendations are due to be forwarded to Neall nextweek.

County school officials said that up to 1,500 new students are expected each fall until at least the year 2000, putting a strainon a system in which over 80 of the 120 schools are already over capacity.

The 67,000-pupil system is expected to increase to about 78,000 in eight years, school officials say.

"When you have that many students, it creates an array of problems," said Ronald Beckett, assistant superintendent for support services for the county schools. Beckett said the expected difficulties include overcrowded classrooms,discipline problems and distractions for teachers and students.

School officials are asking the board to recommend that Neall spend $22.7 million to plan for school additions, buy relocatable classrooms and new school furniture, and renovate dozens of schools.

Includedin the package is a request of $3.7 million to build a new Parole elementary school and $2.8 million for 36 relocatable classrooms throughout the county.

The requests, approved by the school board in October and revised by school system staff members, also include $1.1 million for roof replacements.

Ralph Luther, director of operations and maintenance, said a leaky roof at West Meade Elementary caused about six ceiling tiles to fall, exposing a classroom to asbestos. The leak was the latest in a series of roof problems at the school, whereup to 25 ceiling tiles have fallen in the past few years. When tilesfall, children are routinely cleared from the classroom, air samplesare taken to detect whether there has been any asbestos exposure, and any fallen asbestos is removed, he said.

He said there is no immediate threat from the asbestos and the school's ceiling tiles will be replaced with $141,000 awarded from asbestos litigation. However, the roof is not scheduled to be replaced next year "because there are 30 roofs in worse shape," Luther said.

The board yesterday also was asked to approve $2.5 million for new roads, sewer and water work as an initial step toward completion of a four-building addition planned for the west side of the 167-acre Anne Arundel Community College campus.

Edgar E. Mallick Jr., vice president for administration, planning and college relations, said that the school's current enrollment of 8,800 full- and part-time students is expected to increase to 13,000 by the year 2000.

Mallick said that the four-building addition, due to be completed in about 10 years, is aimed at dealing with enrollment increases that have caused severe parking shortages and forced classes to be held in rooms built as general storage areas and faculty dining areas.

"We've got people squeezed in everywhere," he said.

He said that the first building planned is a four-story, 60,000-square-foot Allied Health building that will cost $7 million. Construction is expected to start this summer, he said.

Because moneyis tight, the college plans to secure private financing for the building and then pay it off by assessing all students a "capital fee" ofabout $10 per semester, possibly starting in the fall of 1993, he said.

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