Parham makes pitch for school construction Board gets request for $78.6 million

September 14, 1993|By Carol Bowers | Carol Bowers,Staff Writer

Pushing for approval of nearly $78.6 million worth of construction, the county's acting school superintendent painted a bleak picture for the Board of Education last night.

"Eighty percent of our buildings will need to be renovated by the end of the decade," Carol Parham said. "By the end of the decade, enrollment will surge by 9,000 to more than 78,000 students. In 10 years, 66 schools will be overcrowded. Our needs are serious and costly."

Dr. Parham presented a list of proposed projects in the school system's order of priority to the board last night, before the members heard views from dozens of people with appeals for their children's schools.

They also painted bleak pictures -- sweating students, crowded into under-equipped classrooms in deteriorating buildings.

"South Shore Elementary is the most overcrowded of the 76 elementary schools," parent Nancy Grisham told the board, asking that the school be moved to the top of the construction list. "We are 242 percent over capacity. It's like a three-bedroom house with a family with 15 kids living in it."

South Shore's $5.5 million addition and renovation, now in the planning stage, falls 13th on a list of 33 construction projects. Among the competing needs for construction money -- a portion of which comes from the state -- are $19.2 million for a new Meade Area Middle School and $20 million for an addition at Broadneck Senior High.

But a big concern to parents was the lack of air conditioning in half of the county's 120 school buildings. The proposed budget for the 1995 fiscal year calls for putting air conditioning in only one elementary school -- at a cost of $1.5 million.

Parents of students at Annapolis Middle School and Belvedere Elementary urged the board to include money to at least pay for window air conditioners in one frequently used room in each school.

Tracy Klug, whose child attends Mayo Elementary, urged the board to pay for more computers. The acting superintendent's budget includes $700,000 for computer labs.

Mrs. Klug noted that not much has been done to the school since it was built in 1956.

"We have no computer lab. All of our computers are provided by the fund-raising efforts of parents, and the computers we do own are no longer recommended by the Board of Education," Mrs. Klug said. "We have heard many times our numbers don't justify putting the money into the school when so many other schools are in need. But we do not put numbers to bed at night."

In other action last night, the board decided to take another look at redistricting for schools in the Meade feeder system because of its failure to adequately notify parents before taking a vote on the issue in April.

It also postponed last night a ratification vote on the new contract negotiated with the county teachers union. Teachers overwhelmingly approved the two-year agreement last week.

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