State reimbursement may come for school

March 18, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

State officials might reimburse Carroll County for more than $2.5 million spent to build Piney Ridge Elementary, county public school Superintendent R. Edward Shilling told the commissioners yesterday.

County officials have been trying for three years to get state reimbursement for the elementary school, which opened in 1991. Most schools are built using 65 percent state money and 35 percent county money, but Piney Ridge was built entirely with county money.

"I think there is a real possibility we might get reimbursed for Piney Ridge Elementary," Mr. Shilling said during the public school capital budget hearing with the commissioners for fiscal 1995. The fiscal year begins July 1.

"It's not a done deal," he said. "But I think it's more than just talk."

Mr. Shilling and Vernon F. Smith, county director of school support services, said they believed that pressure from the Carroll County General Assembly delegation helped bring the project to the forefront.

In a separate interview, Yale Stenzler, executive director for Maryland's Interagency Committee on School Construction, confirmed that the Sykesville-area elementary school is on the statewide list of completed projects that may be reimbursed.

"There are $15.9 million worth of previously approved projects, including Piney Ridge, which might be considered if additional pay-as-you-go money is placed in the budget," Dr. Stenzler said.

Currently, $5 million has been placed in the state budget for reimbursement, he said. State bonds cannot be sold to pay for previously approved projects and money must come out of the (( operating budget, Dr. Stenzler said.

"The decision will not be made until the governor and the legislature agree on the funding level for fiscal year 1995," he said. "That won't occur until the first week of April."

Mr. Shilling and Mr. Smith also said the delegation -- particularly Del. Richard N. Dixon and Sens. Charles H. Smelser and Larry E. Haines -- has also helped push the Oklahoma Road Middle School project in Sykesville and renovations for Taneytown Elementary and Elmer Wolfe Elementary in Union Bridge.

"They are trying to keep focus on where our three priorities are," Mr. Shilling said. "We consider this our problem as much as yours. We feel it is critical that the state pick up their piece of the action."

For Taneytown, the school system is requesting about $2.8 million from the state and about $3.1 million from the county. State officials are expected to approve about $1.9 million and the county budget office has recommended about $2.9 million.

The budget office is recommending the school system request of about $4.6 for Oklahoma Road. School officials are requesting forward funding if the state does not approve about $6.3 million for the school.

County budget officials have recommended $200,000 of the $250,000 request for design and engineering with the Elmer Wolfe project. Mr. Shilling said yesterday that state officials have requested additional information on the renovations, which have been deferred.

Among other requests, school officials asked the commissioners for $37,600 to complement $65,000 in state money to renovate and upgrade high school science classrooms. County budget officials concurred with this request.

School officials also asked for $750,000 in design money for a new Westminster-area high school, $275,000 in design money for additions and renovations to Francis Scott Key High, and $275,000 for a southwest area elementary school.

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