Hickey proposes $250 million, 10-year school construction plan

September 23, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

With county schools facing an estimated 13,700 more students by the year 2003, Superintendent Michael E. Hickey is proposing school construction, renovations and additions totaling $250 million over the next 10 years.

Of that total, $62.8 million would be used for capital projects in 1994.

The long-range plan was announced with the proposed 1994 capital budget Friday and is to be presented to the school board at its regular meeting Thursday.

It calls for 13 new schools to open by 2003, including four newly announced schools: two elementary schools -- one in the southeastern part of the county and the other in the west -- a western middle school and an eastern high school.

The plan would delay construction of an environmental science center in the Middle Patuxent Valley.

The center, to be used as a countywide facility for intensified science programs, had been expected to open in 1995. Now the project, which ranks among the lowest priorities funded by the Maryland Public School Construction Program, is not expected to open until 1998.

Of the nearly $63 million requested, about $59 million would come from the county. The remaining $3.7 million would come from transfer taxes. School officials said they expect little financial aid from the state.

"We will be asking the state for a portion of the $59 million but as a minimum we expect $5 million to $6 million," said Sydney L. Cousin, associate superintendent of finance and operations.

But County Executive Charles I. Ecker said the county may be unable to fill in the gap left by state funding. "Fifty-nine million dollars is a lot of money," Mr. Ecker said. I don't think we're going to be able to sell that many bonds."

The school construction money would come primarily from the sale of county bonds.

Mr. Ecker also expressed concern that the $59 million request would rob the schools of money needed to hire more teachers, and buy textbooks and other supplies.

"It's going to be a drain on the operating budget for years," said Mr. Ecker, who said that fewer schools may be built as a result of budget problems.

If no schools are constructed by 1999, 25 of 30 elementaries, 10 of 13 middle schools and all eight high schools will have more students than they were designed for, school officials said.

The 32,756-student school system is expected to add 13,751 students by the year 2003.

Under the superintendent's 1994-2003 long-range plan, the following schools are planned:

* 1994 -- A western high school on Route 108 and Trotter Road, and a northern elementary school on Route 144 between Triadelphia and Marriottsville roads.

* 1995 -- A western elementary, site undetermined, and a northeastern middle, tentatively situated next to the new Elkridge Elementary at 7075 Montgomery Road.

* 1996 -- An eastern high school, site undetermined, and a southeastern elementary, site undetermined.

* 1997 -- A southeastern middle school, site undetermined, and a western elementary school, site undetermined.

* 1998 -- Environmental science center in Middle Patuxent Valley.

* 1999 -- A southeastern elementary, site undetermined.

* 2000 -- An eastern high school, site undetermined.

* 2001 -- A western middle school, site undetermined.

* 2002 -- A western elementary school, site undetermined.

In August, a northeastern elementary will open in Rockburn Branch Park and a western middle school on Route 99.

A public hearing will be held Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Department of Education building in Ellicott City. The Board of Education is expected to approve the capital budget on Oct. 8.

The budget will then be reviewed by the Interagency Committee for Public School Construction, the county executive and the County Council.

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