Delay in school project spurs meeting NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

April 19, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

North County parents are scheduled to meet tonight with state legislators over delays in turning the former Andover High School into a middle school.

A parents' coalition has invited state senators and delegates from Districts 31 and 32 to the meeting at 8 p.m.

But county school officials say the county's own budget problems, not the state's, are to blame.

"If the topic is why are we late, we can certainly answer the question," said Michael K. Raible, director of school construction for the Board of Education. "First, we did not receive full funding for planning phase in last year's budget, and second, it appears as though we can catch up if we receive full funding for this year's cash request."

Last year, the school system asked the county for $640,000 to pay for planning three construction projects in the North County.

But the county executive and the County Council granted the Board of Education only $250,000, said Mr. Raible, not enough money to finish planning the changes.

Changing Andover Senior High School into a middle school at an estimated cost of $14 million is part of a seven-year scheduled "North County equity project." The other construction projects involve turning the former Lindale Junior High into a four-year high school at a cost of about $15 million, and renovating Brooklyn Park Junior High so that it can be used as a middle school, at a cost of about $14 million.

"This year we're seeking at least $7 million in cash from the county," said Mr. Raible.

To begin construction, the Board of Education really needs $14.2 million, but Mr. Raible said that money could be spread over two years, hence the $7 million bottom line. The state's share will be about $1.9 million, he said, but he noted that the project does not yet have the blessing of the state committee that controls school construction.

"We believe we can accelerate both the design and construction phases," said Mr. Raible. "Realistically, construction won't start until next January, probably later than that. But the school is still scheduled to open in the fall of 1995, as we originally planned. The key to that whole thing is it's going to take more money than we've got right now."

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