School panel adopts 10-year construction plan

High schools approved in Eldersburg, Westminster

May 21, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county Board of Education adopted last night a master plan that will guide school construction and renovation in Carroll for the next decade.

Included in the 1999-2008 facilities master plan is construction of the 1,200-student Century High School in Eldersburg, a Westminster-area high school, Cranberry Station Elementary School and the long-planned South Carroll Middle School.

At the suggestion of school board member C. Scott Stone, the middle school project was moved up four years, causing construction plans for a new Westminster Middle School to be delayed by the same number of years.

Originally planned for occupancy in fall 2007, South Carroll Middle is slated to open in 2003. The Westminster school has been pushed back to 2007.

In proposing the change, Stone noted an increase in enrollment in the South Carroll area and declining enrollment in Westminster. His motion passed unanimously.

Century High is expected to open in 2001. The commissioners are expected to request bids on the $30 million project next month.

Cranberry Station Elementary is scheduled to open in August, despite the state's recent decision to deny funding for construction. In announcing their decision last week, state officials said enrollment figures for the new Westminster school do not meet state standards.

The lack of funding means Carroll County taxpayers might have to pay the entire $9.3 million bill for the school, including $1.3 million in projected cost overruns.

Overall, Carroll County will receive $8.3 million from the state for school construction in fiscal year 2000, which begins July 1. This fiscal year, the county got $7.2 million.

Carroll school projects awarded state dollars include $6.8 million for Century High; $179,000 for a new roof at Eldersburg Elementary School; $592,000 for renovation of a media center at Sykesville Middle School; and $557,000 for six new classrooms at Spring Garden Elementary School.

Each project is included in the master plan approved by the five-member school board yesterday.

The plan was approved over the objections of the county commissioners, who have raised concerns about Carroll's ability to pay for the proposed projects -- particularly those included in the last five years of the plan.

The county planning commission has raised concerns about the school board's ability to select appropriate sites for school construction, noting the proposed Westminster-area high school as an example of short-sightedness.

The county commissioners are considering selling the parcel bought in 1994 for the high school because of possible traffic hazards and construction problems at the rocky Gorsuch Road site.

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