County officials to appeal to state panel for funds for new school

January 19, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Carroll Democrat, is confident that county officials can persuade the state Board of Public Works today to pay for a new South Carroll middle school.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, a Carroll and Frederick Democrat, isn't so sure. He said yesterday that he doesn't know if Carroll County and the Oklahoma Road Middle School are priorities for the governor.

County and school officials are scheduled to testify today at a 10 a.m. Board of Public Works meeting about the need for the new school, which would ease crowding at Sykesville Middle.

Last month, the state Interagency Committee for Public School Construction denied Carroll $6.3 million in state money for the $11 million school. County officials are appealing the decision to the Board of Public Works, which is composed of the governor, comptroller and treasurer.

Mr. Dixon, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, feels strongly that the new school is needed. He said yesterday that he plans to talk to Gov. William Donald Schaefer about it this week.

"I'm optimistic," he said.

Mr. Smelser, chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee's Capital Budget Subcommittee, said yesterday he has discussed the school issue with Yale Stenzler, executive director of the state's public school construction program. If more school construction money is added to the state budget, the state may contribute money for the South Carroll school, Mr. Smelser said.

In capital budget documents released yesterday, the governor indicated he wants to spend $75 million in fiscal 1995 for public school construction. The state spent $60 million last year.

Fiscal 1995 will begin July 1.

Arthur H. Hilsenrad, the governor's deputy secretary for capital programs, said $5 million would be spent to reimburse counties that already have built schools without state aid.

In the past three years, Carroll paid for the construction of Piney Ridge Elementary and renovations at Sandymount Elementary without state money. County officials hope to recoup $4.4 million, which would have been the state share for the two projects.

Mr. Dixon said he expects Carroll officials to make "a strong presentation" today on the Oklahoma Road Middle School to the Board of Public Works. The board will not make a decision today about whether to help pay for the school. A decision could come as late as April, he said.

"A lot of things could happen by the end of the [General Assembly] session," Mr. Dixon said.

Carroll Budget Director Steven D. Powell said local officials also will appeal a state decision to contribute $1.6 million for additions and renovations at Taneytown Elementary instead of the $2.8 million requested.

State officials said the money allocated would pay for an expansion of the school's capacity to 400 students, but county officials believe there is a need to increase its capacity to 600 students, he said.

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