Council enters school fray

Its approval sought on expansion plans mayor resists signing

Crowding, facade concerns

Hampstead

May 09, 2000|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Carroll school officials will appeal tonight to the Hampstead Town Council for approval of plans to expand Spring Garden Elementary School, despite the mayor's concerns over aesthetics and continued crowding.

Mayor Christopher M. Nevin has resisted signing the site plans because the planned 150-pupil addition's roof and facade will not match the existing structure. He's also concerned that when the addition is completed, the school will still be crowded and need portable classrooms.

But Ray Prokop, supervisor of construction for Carroll schools, said nothing looks worse than the portable buildings that are there now, which will be used until an addition is built.

It is possible that by appealing to the council, the county could get the needed town approval, said Haven Shoemaker, Town Council vice president.

Although the mayor's signature traditionally connotes approval for school site plans, Shoemaker said the council could vote to authorize someone else to sign them or vote to direct the mayor to sign them on behalf of the council.

"He's steadfast that these concerns need to be addressed," said Shoemaker, who said he has spoken with Nevin. "He's got some legitimate concerns. Then again, the Board of Education has some strict time constraints they're working with."

Shoemaker said he is glad the council will be able to hear from school officials and the mayor at the meeting. It is possible the council could take a vote, he said.

Without approval from the town, the Board of Education cannot proceed with construction of the addition for the crowded school on Boxwood Drive in the Roberts Field development.

The school, built in 1991, is designed to hold 600 pupils but currently has 755. As many as 855 pupils have been enrolled in previous years.

Nevin said the building's common areas such as the cafeteria, library, music and art rooms will be strained by the permanent increase of 150 children. School officials say portable classrooms may be necessary even after the addition is completed.

Prokop said the Town Council approved the Spring Garden construction plans a year ago, which would add six classrooms and restrooms for pupils and faculty.

Nothing has changed since then except the plans for the roof and the facade, which were altered to keep the project closer to its original $1.073 million budget, Prokop said. The lowest bid has been $1.366 million.

The lowest bid includes using a less-expensive split-face block exterior instead of brick that would match the original building. That bid also includes a flat roof instead of the sloped one that would have hidden equipment stored on the roof. Restoring those two items would add $60,000 to $113,000 to the project's cost, Prokop said.

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