State likely to deny planning bid for new middle school in south Design funds may be lacking

November 29, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Crowding will be a fact of life at Sykesville Middle School for at least a year longer than expected, with a new delay in the quest to build a second South Carroll middle school.

The state is not likely to give the go-ahead for planning to start on a new school, proposed for Oklahoma Road, but it might be a moot point, because the county probably doesn't have the design money.

A staff recommendation to the state's Public School Construction Program Interagency Committee is recommending against allowing Carroll County to start planning for the Oklahoma Road school, said Vernon Smith, director of school support services in Carroll.

Mr. Smith said that although he hasn't received official word in writing, a staff member for the committee called him over a week ago with the news.

Usually, the committee accepts the staff recommendation, Mr. Smithsaid, so the outlook is grim for the school.

The state's staff doesn't feel Carroll's enrollment projections for the area merit building another school yet, Mr. Smith said.

"We know that those numbers are borderline," Mr. Smith said. "But we believe the numbers are going to come fast and furiously."

Growth in the area is rapid, he said, and if the Oklahoma Road school is delayed, it will mean even more crowded conditions at Sykesville Middle. If the schools can start planning Oklahoma Road in 1993, it still would not be ready for students until 1996, according to the system's master plan.

County planners have estimated that 311 students would be transferred from the overcrowded Sykesville Middle to the new Oklahoma Road school, with another 150 from Mount Airy Middle and 40 more from West Middle in Westminster.

The school board applied to the state this year for approval to plan the school. The state requires the county to cover the cost of the planning, however.

If the state agency does not approve the project again this year, it would mark the third time in as many years for the school.

It may be just as well that the state approval won't come, however, because the county may have to use the $482,000 it had set aside to plan Oklahoma Road toward finishing the Mechanicsville Elementary School expansion and renovation.

Mechanicsville students and staff will move just after winter break into portable classrooms in Westminster while their school is being remodeled.

The system is about to award a bid on the Mechanicsville project, but needs to come up with several hundred thousand dollars more to pay for bids that came in higher than expected.

County commissioners are considering a request from the school board to allow them to transfer the Oklahoma Road planning money, as well as about $60,000 from other school capital accounts, into Mechanicsville.

But with that request, the Board of Education also asked that the county put back the $482,000 in the 1993-1994 fiscal year.

Steven Powell, the county's budget director, said the outlook is bleak for capital project money. He said while the commissioners might decide to let the school board transfer the money from Oklahoma Road, the county might not be able to replace it next year.

Still, the Board of Education has an opportunity to appeal the state committee's decision if it chooses to deny planning approval for Oklahoma Road, Mr. Smith said.

But whether it will be worth it is another question. Mr. Smith and Superintendent R. Edward Shilling and Assistant Superintendent William Hyde will need to decide by early next month. The date set for an appeal is Dec. 11.

Although the state denial is likely for Oklahoma Road, the committee's staff did recommend approval of three other Carroll County projects: Construction for New Windsor Middle School, a new roof for East Middle School, and planning for an expanded Taneytown Elementary School.

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