Plan to add school space Baltimore County proposes building to relieve crowding

14 sites to be repaired

Owings Mills, Woodlawn would get elementaries

March 23, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Prompted by the latest enrollment predictions -- and pressure from parents -- Baltimore County officials are proposing new schools, additions and repairs to deal with crowding and older buildings in poor condition.

Revised plans call for a new, 592-seat elementary school in Woodlawn, hundreds of new elementary seats in Owings Mills, and millions of dollars in repairs to 14 older schools, from Catonsville Elementary School's windows to Dundalk Middle School's fire alarm system.

"When you look at the reports and listen to the community people, they were right," County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger said about Chadwick and Owings Mills-area parents, who have complained about crowding. "We had to find a way to deal with it."

The proposals -- to be formally unveiled at tomorrow night's school board meeting -- are based on consultants' forecasts that up to $400 million in repairs are needed at older schools and that some areas might see enrollment growth in the next decade.

The most dramatic change to the county's original capital plan is the school proposed for a 40-acre site south of Dogwood Road west of Rolling Road in Woodlawn -- not far from Chadwick Elementary, the county's most crowded elementary school.

"We're very happy about the news," said Anthony Rollie, PTA president at Chadwick, which has 650 students and is expected to have 810 in 10 years.

A new school -- built on the $8 million prototype design used for Edgemere Elementary -- would help Chadwick, Featherbed Lane and Hebbville elementaries, which are expected to grow during the next decade if nothing is done.

County Council Chairman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, and state Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Democrat who represents Woodlawn and Randallstown, say they hope the Woodlawn school can open in August 2000. But Ruppersberger says that might be too optimistic.

"We can't guarantee a time that the school will open," he said, noting that the land hasn't been purchased and the state has not agreed to provide a share of the money. "We're going to open it as soon as possible," said Michael H. Davis, Ruppersberger's spokesman.

In Owings Mills, the most recent enrollment projections led officials to propose a 750-seat elementary instead of a planned kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school at the same location that would have had 300 elementary seats.

Plans for a middle and high school in the Owings Mills area were deferred until 2000, Davis said.

In response to parents' complaints, officials say they will go ahead with a stalled 100-seat addition to Deer Park Elementary. The addition will open in January.

"That puts 850 seats out here, which is a big improvement," said Lisa Cohen, the Deer Park PTA president. "I'm very pleased to see that. But I'm very upset we're not getting the addition in August."

Ruppersberger said he and Kelley separately talked to Gov. Parris N. Glendening last week about whether the county could change its plans this late in the capital budget process. Ruppersberger said the governor is supportive.

County officials hope the proposals will bolster their request for more state school construction money. Officials are hoping to get $30.5 million in state money for schools, $5.5 million more than last year.

The state's final decisions won't be made until after the 90-day General Assembly session ends next month.

Additional repair projects come from the partially completed, yearlong consultant's study of each of the county's 160 school buildings, many of which suffer from decades of patchwork repairs.

Two elementaries -- Stoneleigh in Towson and Oakleigh near Parkville -- will get the most work. That means $1.45 million for a new heating system, lighting, windows and exterior doors at Stoneleigh, and $1.3 million for similar work at Oakleigh.

Pub Date: 3/23/98

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