Middle schools will be smaller Board OKs proposal to decrease space by 24,400 square feet

March 20, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County school board approved shrinking the size of future middle schools last night but agreed to add two rooms -- one for in-school suspensions and the other for enrichment programs -- to the original concept.

The smaller school will be able to house a full middle school program but will do it more efficiently, said Peter Nicolini, a regional instruction director who served on the committee that developed the smaller design.

The advantage of the new design is that it shaves about $5 million from the cost of a middle school. The design does not allow for expansion.

It reduces the size of middle schools from the standard 116,715 square feet for 900 students to 92,315 for 810 students.

North county residents fumed immediately after the meeting, angry over the reduction in size just as a second middle school is being planned for their area.

"It's north county, so give us the shaft," said Rita Lowman, a former countywide PTA president and longtime advocate for schools in Arundel's northern tier.

At a briefing held last week for parents, Esther Parker, president of the county's Council of PTAs, was upset that parents were not included in the development of the new middle school plan.

The plan -- known as educational specifications -- outlines how much space should be devoted to various uses in a school, serving as a guidebook for an architect.

Plans to reduce the amount of school space moved hurriedly because the board has to renovate or replace two middle school buildings -- one an old structure serving as Brooklyn Park Middle, the other Southern Middle in Lothian.

The board wants to get both projects into the budget for the fiscal cycle that starts July 1 and must amend its capital budget request by the April 16 meeting to accomplish that.

"This is a concept. It is not a drawing for any particular school," said board member Paul G. Rudolph of Severna Park.

Some schools might be larger, based on whether the local student population is expected to grow.

A few weeks ago, the dimensions of the proposed plan were 900 square feet smaller than the 92,315 figure approved last night. But the committee acknowledged last night that an enrichment room had been overlooked.

Parents had asked that in-school suspension programs be assigned a separate room instead of floating from one room to another -- a request that also was incorporated in the final proposal.

The new plan puts computers in classrooms and has only one computer laboratory.

The standard being replaced provided for two large computer labs and eight minilabs.

The new plan devotes more space overall to technology.

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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