About 250 Carroll County parents are expected to attend a public hearing tonight to lobby for school construction projects, ranging from new classrooms to renovations and roof replacements.
The superintendent and Board of Education will consider the community's comments as they finalize, then approve the facilities master plan next month.
If approved by the school board and funded by the county commissioners, the plan serves as a blueprint for the school system's capital spending and sets priorities for school construction and renovation projects for 10 years.
Groups from nearly every corner of the county will converge on South Carroll High School to ask the school board to add or adjust a construction project or to speed a construction project in their community.
Mount Airy residents want the board to build at least another elementary school in their community - and ideally a middle and high school as well - to stem crowding that they expect will worsen as additional housing developments sprout where farm fields once were.
Parents with children at Charles Carroll Elementary will attend to implore the board not to close their 72-year-old school, which became the subject of a facility assessment after school officials downgraded the rating of the building's condition last year from fair to poor.
Representatives from William Winchester Elementary in Westminster and North Carroll Middle in Hampstead will appeal to the board to more quickly renovate their schools, which are, respectively, 39 and 45 years old.
South Carroll parents want a fine arts center built sooner at South Carroll High.
Carrolltowne Elementary parents want open-space classrooms at their school closed in.
Parents from a half-dozen schools across the county want their children's classrooms air-conditioned.
`A lot of needs'
"There are a lot of needs and there are limited dollars," said Kathleen Sanner, the school system's facilities director. "So affordability is a major issue. The willingness of the state to participate [in funding the projects] is also a major issue because the county commissioners believe they cannot afford to forward-fund any more projects."
The proposal under consideration by the school board includes projects to address school crowding; renovations and expansions; modernizations; renewal projects, such as roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacements; and building improvements, such as the installation of air-conditioning systems and track renovation.
Major construction projects
In addition to completing Century High, which will open in August in Eldersburg, and Winters Mill High, which is under construction outside Westminster, major construction projects on the proposed plan include:
A $1 million systemic renovation at Charles Carroll Elementary in fiscal year 2003 to fix urgent problems with the structure, and water and septic systems.
A $4.9 million building to open in August next year for the Gateway alternative school. Construction has been approved by state school planners and received state funding.
A $14 million middle school for the South Carroll area, scheduled to open August 2005. Sanner said the county is considering property between Eldersburg and Mount Airy but could not be more specific without jeopardizing land acquisition negotiations.
A $17.5 million renovation at North Carroll Middle no sooner than 2003.
A $10.5 million fine-arts addition at South Carroll High, scheduled to open in August 2007.
A $9.4 million expansion of career and technology programs at Westminster and South Carroll high schools with target completion dates in August 2004 and August 2006, respectively.
Modernization projects at William Winchester, Freedom and Charles Carroll elementary schools no sooner than 2009.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at South Carroll High School, 1300 W. Old Liberty Road, Winfield.