With little discussion, the Baltimore County school board approved next year's capital budget and five-year capital program last night, emphasizing the need for improvements at Essex Elementary School.
The $33 million budget for fiscal 1994 is part of a $46 million bond issue on the November ballot. The remaining money has been allocated for projects in fiscal 1995.
The budget includes $2.5 million in construction money for the Essex school, which was built in 1925 and is in need of extensive repair. The building is being examined to determine whether it is sound enough to be modernized or must be replaced, said James Kraft, school planning manager.
"Based on input from the community and the school community," board member Calvin Disney said, the Essex school should be the No. 2 priority, behind an addition to Hereford Middle School. "It's an important project for us," he said. The board agreed.
The budget includes money for two new schools and additions to three others, but about 60 percent of the money is allocated for repairs and renovations, Mr. Kraft said.
Faced with rising enrollments and overcrowding, "we need new seats, but we just can't put all our funds into new seats and ignore our aging infrastructure," he said, adding that more than half of the county's 148 schools were built before 1960.
Among the new projects are:
* Construction of Mays Chapel Elementary School on Padonia Road for 750 students to relieve overcrowding in nearby Pot Springs and Pinewood elementary schools.
* Planning of a new middle school for 1,100 students on King Avenue in Essex.
* Classroom additions at Hereford Middle, Perry Hall High and Hillcrest Elementary schools.
* Reopening of Lutherville Elementary School, closed in 1983, for about 500 students.