Push for additions at schools planned Activists combine to seek expansion at Crofton buildings

November 08, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Crofton activists, weary of crowded schools and years of promises, are turning up the heat on school and county officials.

Determined to ensure that proposed additions to Crofton Middle and Crofton Elementary schools get built and that more portable classrooms are provided as a temporary fix, they are rounding up as many people as they can for a Nov. 21 show of strength.

More than 200 people, from community as well as school groups, are expected at the meeting with school board and local officials at 7 p.m. at Crofton Country Club.

"We are trying to show our political clout for Crofton," said Torrey Jacobsen, treasurer of Greater Crofton Council, an umbrella group of civic organizations that is organizing the meeting.

Crofton parents have crusaded for more space at the two schools, collecting 1,100 signatures on a petition and buttonholing school and county officials. They have commitments from state delegates and senators to pursue state funding for the additions -- but the delegation seeks state dollars for any school project the county puts forth.

Marshaling support for school projects is common and often successful. Broadneck Peninsula activists are watching the results of their drive daily, as Broadneck High School is renovated and expanded.

Davidsonville Elementary supporters packed a September school board hearing. Belvedere Elementary parents brought board members to see their building's crumbling interior. Now, those two schools are awaiting funding in the 1997-1998 budget.

The school board, adhering to its five-year capital improvement plan, last month affirmed its commitment to building $1.3 million, six-classroom wings at each Crofton school to ease the space crunch. The wings would open in August 1999.

But Crofton parents say they won't rest until the board reviews the capital budget in February before sending it to County Executive John G. Gary to be included in the county budget.

Crofton Elementary has 585 students while its capacity is 464. Next fall, the student population is expected to be 564, according to the most recent projections.

Crofton Middle has 882 students, below its capacity of 920 students. But the number of students is expected to rise to 971 in August 1997.

Two of four portable classrooms at Crofton Middle were removed over the summer, angering parents. One portable went to Crofton Elementary; the other to Arundel High School.

The community wants more portables now and a commitment that the additions will be funded over the next two years.

But school board President Joseph H. Foster said the under-capacity middle school is unlikely to get another portable.

Foster said he sees no reason why the Crofton wings would not be built. Gary has promised to back the construction request.

That leaves the decision up to the County Council, which will approve an entire school and county spending package by May 31.

"Promise? I don't promise anything," said Republican County Councilman John J. Klocko III, a Crofton Republican. "I am going to balance the overall needs of citizens in the county during the budget session. That's kind of where I have to be."

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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