$5 million sought for Woodmoor school Conditions 'appalling' at crowded elementary

March 11, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County planners have recommended a $5 million modernization plan for Woodmoor Elementary School, which has leaking roofs and bad lighting, and is crowded. Planning board member Jack Barnhart, who toured the school last month with fellow member Ken Oliver, said he was shocked at the dismal state of the 40-year-old building, Drive

"I found it appalling," Mr. Barnhart said.

"The lighting was horrible, and, in some of the classrooms, I found it difficult to read a book."

The renovation request is part of the board's recommended capital budget, which will be submitted to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III. "Some of the schools were asking for money for additional classrooms but were under capacity," Mr. Barnhart said.

"We took money for those projects and decided to give it to this school."

Dr. Antoinette G. Lyles, the school's principal, said the money is needed badly. In addition to the need for repairs, the school has become increasingly crowded, she said.

"In the three years I have been here, I've watched the student population grow from a little over 400 to 650 students," Dr. Lyles said.

Although three trailers are used as classrooms, Dr. Lyles said some fourth- and fifth-grade classes have more than 30 students. Four full-day kindergarten classes and four half-day sessions operate to deal with crowding, she said.

If the funding is approved, Dr. Lyles hopes to get a new media center that would include extra classrooms; a gym expansion and other renovations, such as improved lighting. She also would like the school's parking lot to be expanded, because members of her 50-person staff are "parking on top of each other."

County Councilman Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Democrat whose district includes Woodmoor, said he met with Mr. Oliver, chairman of the planning board's capital budget subcommittee, to alert him to the school's problems. Mr. Kamenetz plans to meet with the county executive to help secure funding to improve the school's "unhealthy environment."

Bob Chapman, acting deputy superintendent for the school system, said $433,000 in state funds and $767,000 in county money had been allocated for an addition to the school, but not for the renovations recommended by the planning board. Mr. Chapman said the school system was grateful for any funding it could get to help maintain older schools. "We have, over the years, had to put our priorities in new seats and staffing," he said.

"Maintenance funds were often tapped into when we ran into deficits," he said. "You can only do that for so many years before it catches up to you."

Pub Date: 3/11/96

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