Schools to get half of state aid request

April 18, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Howard County will get $9 million -- half what it asked for -- in school construction money this year, but it's enough for school officials to go ahead with two stalled elementary school expansions and other projects.

The county will receive $6.6 million to finish building a western high school and a northeastern middle school, money that will be in the state's $67 million schools capital budget, said Del. Virginia Thomas, who was told of the move Friday in a telephone conversation with Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

The county also will get nearly $100,000 in reimbursement money for renovations to an Ellicott City elementary school, Ms. Thomas said.

The state Board of Public Works is expected to approve the funding Wednesday morning.

"I'm happy with anything the state gives us now," said Associate Superintendent Sydney Cousin, who is in charge of school construction. "This will go a long way."

Howard County is expected to receive:

* $4 million for construction of the $25 million western high school, scheduled to open in 1994. The school system had asked for $8.6 million.

* $2.5 million for the $11.8 million northeastern middle school, scheduled to open fall of 1995 near Elkridge Elementary School. The school system had asked for nearly $4 million.

* $96,000 to reimburse money the county spent on renovating St. John's Lane Elementary School.

The state has agreed to reimburse the county $2.3 million for building an elementary school in Elkridge.

In exchange for the state money, County Executive Charles I. Ecker and the school board have agreed to pay for renovation and expansion costing about $3 million at Bollman Bridge and Longfellow elementary schools. The county also will foot the bills to repair roofs at Guilford and Phelps Luck elementary schools, and at Hammond High School.

"I'm happy that we received anything," Mr. Cousin said. "I'm very glad and overjoyed we received the money. This will allow us to go back on schedule. We've already stretched things as much as it can be stretched."

School board Vice Chair Susan Cook echoed him. "I'll take anything they want to give us," she said. "At this point, I will take any money the state is willing to provide." But Ms. Cook said she is afraid that school construction plans will be stymied by inadequate state funding in the future.

"We are having so many students moving into the county that we don't have enough seats for them," she said. "We have neglected some of our older buildings. A lot of them need additions. They need renovations, and we have been unable to do that. We can't put off these renovations any longer."

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