Essex school heads capital budget list BALTIMORE COUNTY

August 11, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

A new Essex Elementary School tops the list of building projects in the Baltimore County schools' proposed capital budget and five-year plan presented to the school board last night.

The budget totals $28.6 million in county funds to be spent for about 15 projects, including nearly $6.5 million for new roofs, $3.5 million for major building maintenance and $3 million for asbestos removal.

The proposed budget also includes $2 million for an addition to the Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, the new magnet school at the former Western School of Technology in Catonsville. Another $500,000 is requested to equip Cromwell Valley Elementary School, which is scheduled to reopen in September 1994.

"I think that the staff proposal is very moderate and fiscally conservative," said James Kraft, capital planning manager. "We could have requested more, but we think this is a good plan."

The proposal also asks that a $44.8 million bond referendum be put before county voters in November 1994. If approved, that money would be available in fiscal years 1996 and 1997.

The board will vote on the proposed budget and five-year plan in late September, after conducting a public hearing at its Sept. 7 meeting.

The proposal lists more than $3.5 million for a new school to replace the dilapidated Essex Elementary School, which has been the subject of capital project debates for some time. Last year, the county spent $50,000 to study whether to replace or renovate the school, which was built in 1925. That study, finished in April, said a new school was warranted and would not cost appreciably more than modernizing the old one.

"We're really excited that Essex is our No. 1 priority," said Mr. Kraft. "The project appears to be moving in the right direction."

The new school would be built adjacent to the old school on Mace Avenue, so students would not have to be displaced while the new school is under construction. If the construction money becomes available in July, the new Essex school could open by September 1996, Mr. Kraft said.

In other action, the board:

* Gave principals the option of using a new report card for middle-school students for one year, or retaining the old version. The new report card would use traditional letter grades, but define the letter grades differently than the old report card.

It also would include a list of "self-development characteristics," such as "works hard" and "shows self-motivation." According to the prototype, students would not receive letter grades on these characteristics, but would receive check marks if they have demonstrated them during a particular grading period.

* Approved a proposal for a partnership between the school system and Towson State University that would allow the university's College of Education to operate "prekindergarten classes during the academic year 1993-1994 at six sites."

Under the proposal, the university would hire certified teachers -- perhaps from among its graduate students -- and aides for each site and provide staff development. In turn, the classes would be used by the university as clinics for undergraduate students and student teachers. The collaborative program would cost the county about $128,000, according to the proposal.

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