Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden has added more than $2.5 million to his proposed capital budget to renovate or help replace the 67-year-old Essex Elementary School.
If the school board decides to renovate the decrepit building, the money will be used to get work under way quickly. If replacement is needed, the money would go toward a new building.
"It takes my breath away," Essex Principal Jean Satterfield said when informed about the decision Mr. Hayden is to announce Thursday as part of his budget presentation.
The Essex building has been plagued for years by the stench of stale urine in its bathrooms, a balky heating system, defective windows, peeling lead paint, broken floor tiles and a leaky roof.
Ms. Satterfield, teachers and parents of Essex children appealed to the executive for help last month after the county planning board recommended slicing not only the improvement money, but also money proposed to study whether to repair or renovate the school.
The Essex money is in a package of last minute additions Mr. Hayden has made to both his fiscal 1993 capital budget, which takes effect July 1, and the school bond issue that voters will consider in the November election. If approved by the county council and voters, the bond money actually would be spent in 1994 and 1995.
The additions mean $2 million more for school construction in the 1993 capital budget than the county planning board approved, and $15 million added to the school board's proposed two-year bond issue for school construction.
The executive's proposal, sources said, would mean spending $16.7 million in fiscal 1993, rather than the $14.7 million the planning board had recommended.
Even with the additions, the total proposed bond issue of $46 million is about half of the $91 million school officials requested.
Mr. Hayden also restored to the 1993 capital budget $500,000 to reopen Pikesville's Sudbrook Middle School in September 1993. He added $1.2 million for leaky roof replacements and $150,000 for asbestos removal countywide.
Sudbrook, closed in the 1980s because of then-declining enrollments, has been used to house Milford Mill High School while that building has been undergoing renovation. School officials want to reopen Sudbrook as a middle school when the Milford building is ready.
The biggest change in the proposed 1994-1995 bond issue is $8.4 million Mr. Hayden inserted for a new Mays Chapel Elementary in Timonium. The planning board wanted to postpone the project until 1996, but Mr. Hayden included construction money for fiscal 1994.
He also added $2 million for roof replacements, bringing that total to $13.7 million for 1994-1995.
A number of other changes were designed to bring county facilities in line with fast growing residential development, especially in the northeast White Marsh-Perry Hall areas.
Mr. Hayden restored planning money for a large addition and renovation planned at Perry Hall High School. The project will cost $9 million in fiscal 1996.
He also moved up the planning board's timetable for several schools proposed for later in the decade. They include Nottingham Middle School in White Marsh, now planned for 1996 instead of two years later, and Crossroads Elementary, now planned for 1997 in Perry Hall.
The Crossroads school would be located close to the area of Perry Hall now slated for a three-year building moratorium to allow county facilities to catch up with growth.
Mr. Hayden brought Crossroads forward in the six-year capital budget timetable, along with proposed Painters Mill elementary and middle schools.
They are now planned for 1998 and 1999 respectively.
The executive's actions soften the blow for school officials, who criticized the planning board for recommending that only $14.7 million be spent on school construction during fiscal 1993, instead of the full $18.8 million the count had left over from its 1990 bond. Mr. Hayden is proposing to spend $16.7 million.