Council approves funds for school buildings

June 22, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County Council last night ended a tug of war between two north county communities for scarce school construction funds when it approved a bill that would fund both an elementary school in Solley and a middle school in Linthicum.

During budget negotiations last month, the issue was framed as an either/or proposition. Solley Elementary School was originally in the budget and was to be paid for with operating funds. But council members were pressured by Linthicum residents to start renovating a building that will house Andover Middle School.

In the end, the council cut the money for Solley and fully funded the $13.5 million Andover conversion. As a result, construction of Solley would have been delayed until next year.

After the council's action last month, Councilman Carl G. Holland, in whose district Solley is located, got together with County Executive Robert R. Neall and Mr. Neall submitted the compromise bill approved last night.

Under the compromise, $5.4 million of the money the council appropriated for Andover Middle School will be transferred to the Solley project. The money for Andover would be replaced in the 1995 fiscal year budget.

Parents and students from Solley Elementary packed the council chambers to make sure there were no last-minute snags that would threaten their new school.

Erin Hart, who will enter the fifth grade at Solley next fall, said the conditions make life at school miserable. She said bathrooms flood when toilets overflow, there is no room for a computer center -- a staple at many county schools -- and there is a cramped science lab.

After the vote, Mr. Holland thanked the students who attended the hearing and those who wrote letters to local newspapers urging that the school be built.

"They took their first civics lesson in the last three weeks," he said. "And they did very, very well."

Del. Joan Cadden, a 31st District Democrat, praised the compromise. "I believe that this is an excellent compromise for Solley and Andover Middle. In essence, we get two schools and all of the children in both schools win," she said.

Del. Ray Huff, a 31st District Democrat, while also praising the agreement, chided the council for making the county appear indecisive in the eyes of the General Assembly. The state had already approved $1.6 million in funding for Solley, and by cutting the project from the budget, the county was in effect giving that money back.

Mr. Huff warned before the bill passed that if it were not approved, it would be more difficult in the future for the county to receive state funding for school construction projects. He said north county legislators were also "going to be the laughing-stock of the delegation."

Dominick Morea of Brooklyn Park praised the compromise but warned both the council and Mr. Neall that the money borrowed from the Andover project had to be returned in the next budget. "Remember that all of North County will be watching," he said.

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