Schools to need $300 million by 2004 Capital budget due Tuesday

September 19, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Howard County will need to spend more than $300 million in the next 10 years to renovate and build enough schools to accommodate the growing student population, according to figures from the school superintendent's capital budget proposal.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's 10-year plan calls for additions to four high schools, as well as construction of seven elementary, four middle and four high schools.

It also calls for renovation of one high school, replacement of a middle school, and systemwide renovations averaging $8.5 million each year to older schools.

The $40 million proposal for fiscal year 1994 alone includes $533,000 to equip a northeastern middle school now being built, $10.3 million to construct an eastern high school, and $6.3 million to build a northeastern elementary school. Both new schools would open in 1996.

The superintendent's plan also calls for spending $12.1 million next year to renovate Wilde Lake High School, $100,000 to renovate the School of Technology, and more than $1 million in planning money for additions to two high schools, and for a southeastern middle school expected to open in 1997.

The budget proposal has been "fine-tuned" to meet a projected 39 percent enrollment increase of about 13,000 additional students by the year 2004, Dr. Hickey said.

"We have tried to tighten this budget as much as possible, including reducing [construction] costs of projects 8.5 percent and trying to eliminate or defer projects where they can be done," he said.

The superintendent will present his proposal at Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. school board meeting.

The next six years will test the county and state's ability to fund school construction.

In Howard County alone, more than $40 million will be needed in fiscal year 1995 for school construction; another $42 million in fiscal year 1996; from $31 million to $39 million in each of the next four years; and over $19 million for the years 2001 through 2004.

This school year, the county spent more than $37 million on school renovations and construction. The state contributed $8.4 million, and the county financed $25 million in bonds and another million in transfer taxes.

To finance the superintendent's long-term proposal, the county would have to spend an average of $21.5 million a year, and the state around $5 million a year, for the next 10 years.

Dr. Hickey's proposal is a response to student enrollment projections based on the county's General Plan and zoning restrictions.

Public hearing set

The school board will hold a public hearing on the proposal Oct. 7 and will vote on it Oct. 14.

Here are the enrollment projections and schools that would be built in the next 10 years under the superintendent's plan:

* Elementary School

School officials project that elementary school enrollment will jump by 3,600 students, or 26 percent, by the year 2000. Twenty-six of 31 elementary schools will be crowded. The elementary school population will peak in 2001 at 21,300 students and begin declining through 2004.

Dr. Hickey's proposal calls for building a southeastern elementary school in 1997 and another in that region in 1999.

The elementary school to be built in 1997 would alleviate crowding and require redistricting at Forest Ridge, Hammond and Laurel Woods elementary schools.

The school to be built in 1999 would require another boundary change for the same elementary schools, as well as Atholton, Bollman Bridge and Guilford elementaries.

Redistricting likely

The West Columbia region, meanwhile, would see redistricting of Clemens Crossing Elementary to Pointers Run Elementary in 1997, with the opening of a western elementary school.

The northern region also would see redistricting, at St. John's Lane and Waverly next year. Those students would attend Manor Woods, still under construction. A new school is scheduled to open in the northern region in 1998.

In the western part of the county, school officials plan to open two schools, one in 1997 and one in 1998. School officials plan to open a third in 2001.

Each elementary school costs around $6 million to build.

* Middle School

The county projects that middle school enrollment will increase from this school year by about 2,600 students, or 34 percent, by the year 2000. Eleven of the current 14 schools will be crowded. Middle school population is expected to peak in 2004 at close to 12,000 students.

Dr. Hickey proposes building a northeastern middle school to open in 1995, which would alleviate crowding at Ellicott Mills and Mayfield Woods middle schools. He also proposes to construct another northeastern middle school in 2001 and to move Ellicott Mills into a new building in 1999, at a cost of more than $10 million.

In the southeastern region, the plan is to build a school in 1997 and redistrict Hammond and Patuxent Valley middle schools.

In the western region, Dr. Hickey calls for a new middle school to be built in 1999. The western region includes Clarksville, Glenwood and Mount View, which opened this school year.

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