Private schools soar higher Enrollment rise

New building programs reflect successful capital fund-raising campaigns.

October 01, 1998

DEMAND for private school education in Maryland continue to grow, sparking a surge of building on many campuses.

A private school, from kindergarten through 12th grade, is planned for Finksburg, the first such nonreligious education institution in Carroll County. The Gerstell Academy, the idea of Sinclair Broadcasting executive Frederick G. Smith, aims to have 800 pupils on the 100-acre site.

Built in stages (with the elementary school first), the private school plans to open within a few years. The academy hopes to have boarding facilities.

Meantime, enrollment in the more than 90 independent private schools in Maryland is zooming -- up almost 15 percent from 1992 to 1995, according to state figures. That's without any government financial aid, and in the face of rising tuition.

Schools in the Baltimore area are riding this wave of demand, and cashing in on hefty stock market gains, to undertake ambitious building programs.

Donor gifts are dramatically higher than expected for capital campaigns at some institutions. Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, for example, raised $20 million for new buildings, with a goal of only $12 million. Gilman School in Baltimore set a $15 million target and raised $18 million. McDonogh School in Baltimore County just completed a $25 million capital fund campaign.

As The Sun's Mary Maushard reported, seven Baltimore-area private schools are dedicating new buildings this fall and several others have new facilities in the design or construction phase.

Private schools have thrived in this area, reflecting a sustained demand for nonpublic education. They've provided a healthy boost in economic activity and new jobs. Carroll County points to the planned academy in Finksburg as a highlight of its economic development efforts.

Pub Date: 10/01/98

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