Relief sought for crowded schools

April 15, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

As a member of a key General Assembly capital budget committee, Del. Richard N. Dixon said he is in a prime place to oversee state spending.

And he says he knows the state has to spend some money to ease crowding in South Carroll schools.

"Sometimes, we just have to remind the state that it works for us," the Carroll Democrat said to about 35 PTA members from South Carroll schools last night.

Last week, Mr. Dixon pushed state education officials to review funding for a proposed Oklahoma Road Middle School, to be built north of Liberty Road. He set up a meeting of county and state officials to get the stalled project going.

"I know how much a new middle school is needed here and I intend to work as hard as I can to make sure it happens," he said. "The state is already looking at the project in a more favorable light. Officials are revisiting the issue and reviewing enrollment capacity figures."

Vernon Smith, county director of school support services, told the PTA members at Sykesville Middle School that his agency will recalculate space and include figures for special education students.

"The state agrees that enrollment projections for the southeast area are conservative," he said. "There is an upward growth trend here which could drive those numbers up."

County Commissioner Donald I. Dell told the group that the county had approved $400,000 for planning an Oklahoma Road school in the 1994 budget.

"If everything falls into place, the county could begin construction in 1994 and open the school in 1996," Mr. Dixon said.

Bud Herndon, president of Sykesville Middle PTA, asked: If things don't fall into place, could the county pay for the project and expect the state to repay it later?

"Forward-funding is not an operative word today," Mr. Dixon said. "To say the county would be reimbursed for a $12 million project would not be realistic."

Sykesville Middle, which the county classifies as "severely inadequate," will be 200 students over its capacity this September. Parents are pushing the county to begin planning and construction of Oklahoma Road Middle School immediately.

"How can we keep up the pressure and keep this issue in the state's mind?" asked Susan Krebs of Carrolltowne's PTA.

Answered Mr. Dixon: "Keep writing those letters."

Parents also have considered asking the county to impose a building moratorium or increase impact fees.

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