Shifting of school funds means more roof repairs

January 18, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

The debate over desks or roofs continues in the Baltimore County schools, but it appears the roofs won the latest round.

The county school board has restored about $2.5 million to the roof renovation fund, while cutting about $3.2 million earmarked for two major building projects, one of them an elementary school.

The complex scheme of pluses and minuses is necessitated by County Executive Roger B. Hayden's order to cut $11 million from the school system's capital budget. Though voters approved a $46 million bond issue in November, Mr. Hayden has said that current budget problems mean that the schools can spend only $35 million between now and July 1994.

Many of the county's schools are crowded and in need of repairs.

Planning director James Kraft said his staff went through at least eight versions of cuts before coming up with the plan the school board approved last week. The board had earlier looked at a proposal that gave more money to new construction and less to repairs.

The plan approved by the board cuts $8.7 million out of the $14.5 million originally allotted for roof renovation -- the biggest capital budget item.

However, it leaves $5.8 million -- $2.5 million more than under the interim proposal and enough to finish all the projects in progress and perhaps start a few more, Mr. Kraft said.

One construction project that was cut was the plan to reopen Cromwell Elementary School. The board had hoped to reopen the school to 500 students in fall 1994, but that will be put off at least one year, Mr. Kraft said. The school building on Providence Road has been used for administrative offices since the early 1980s.

It would require about $2 million in renovations before it could house students again.

The board also delayed construction of a new business and finance building at the school system headquarters on Charles Street until at least 1995. The present business and finance building must be vacated for asbestos removal. The employees there will be moved to rental space in Timonium until the new building is built.

Administrators moved out of the Cromwell building to make way for renovation there will move into the old business and finance building once it is renovated, Mr. Kraft said.

"We did not want to do this. It was a very, very arduous task," Mr. Kraft said of the cuts. Nevertheless, "the board is going to work wonders with the money that is left."

In particular, he cited the $3.2 million to convert Central and Western Technical schools to comprehensive high schools next year. These schools will accommodate 1,500 students.

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