$137 million proposed for school repairs

Baltimore County targets roof fixes, lab updates and building upgrades

August 11, 1999|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Looking to repair leaky roofs, upgrade aging elementary schools and modernize outdated science labs, the Baltimore County school board reviewed yesterday a proposed $137 million capital budget for next year.

The proposal reflects the recommendations in a recent facilities survey that urged officials to spend $530 million over the next eight years to repair the county's aged schools, a majority of which were built before 1970.

The board could approve the proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2000, at its Sept. 21 meeting. A public hearing is set for Sept. 9.

Board member Sanford V. Teplitzky applauded the proposal, saying it struck a balance between emergency needs and long-term goals.

A breakdown of the proposal shows that $42.2 million would come from the state and about $95 million from the county.

Under the proposal, about $115 million would be spent on major renovation projects at elementary schools, including Charlesmont, Deep Creek, Halstead Academy, Hillcrest, Milbrook, Lansdowne, Pinewood, Powhatan, Relay, Seneca, Summit Park and Winand. Four schools for students with physical handicaps and learning disabilities would be repaired as well.

Those repairs would wrap up the elementary school phase of the school system's eight-year repair plan, said Valerie A. Roddy, senior fiscal analyst, and allow officials to focus on middle and high schools in fiscal year 2002.

Roof replacement is a priority for the school district because delays could trigger catastrophes. School officials propose spending $6.2 million to fix roofs at Franklin, Fifth District, Pleasant Plains and Sandalwood elementary schools, and Pine Grove and Catonsville middle schools.

"It doesn't matter what you do inside the classroom if you don't have a roof over your head," said Roddy, who presented the proposal to the board. "Roof repairs are key."

Under the proposal, crowding would be relieved at Stoneleigh Elementary School with construction of a cafeteria, which would be off the northwest side of the building. The old cafeteria would be divided into classrooms. The addition is expected to be finished in time for the school year beginning 2002 and cost about $2 million.

Wiring for computers as part of the governor's school technology program could cost about $6 million in state and county money, but the improvements are considered necessary to prepare students for jobs that require computer know-how. The proposed rewiring would complete the technology program in Baltimore County, Roddy said.

School officials have been modernizing school science laboratories since 1996, she said. As part of the proposed 2001 capital budget, the county also would spend about $8 million to renovate school laboratories.

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