Carroll panel approves school construction plan

10-year strategy shifts from building new sites to altering existing ones

June 21, 2000|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Planning Commission signed off on the school board's 10-year facilities master plan, a blueprint for school construction and improvements.

The five-member panel must certify each year for the state that the school system's construction plans do not conflict with the county's development policies.

This year's facilities master plan reflects a change in school construction priorities, said Kathleen Sanner, director of school support services. With the need for new schools leveling off - Carroll has built 10 schools in the past 10 years and is expected to finish three more by August 2002 - schools staff will turn their attention to working with existing sites.

New to this year's plan are a feasibility study of Charles Carroll Elementary School and an addition at Carrolltowne Elementary School to increase the capacity of the 575-pupil Eldersburg school to 750 pupils.

The study of Charles Carroll Elementary - to determine whether to replace, modernize or close the school near Union Mills - leaped from the second-lowest priority on last year's calendar list to the second-highest this year.

The school is the county's oldest at 71 and is in the worst condition of the system's 39 schools, Sanner said. The building's water and sewer systems could fail, the electrical system needs an upgrade, and the school's structural elements are in poor condition, she said.

Also, modernization projects at William Winchester Elementary in Westminster and Freedom Elementary in Sykesville were moved up by two years. A new South Carroll middle school and a South Carroll High fine arts addition were bumped back a year because the projects did not receive state planning funding.

An addition at Spring Garden Elementary in Hampstead was delayed by three years, until 2004, after the town's mayor and residents objected to the construction of classrooms without a similar expansion of the school's cafeteria, media center and other common areas.

And new middle schools for Westminster and Manchester were pushed off the 10-year plan because the opening of Shiloh Middle in Hampstead this fall and the recent redistricting of pupils at East and West middle schools in Westminster eliminated the need for new schools, Sanner said.

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