More school funds sought

Officials ask state for $2.3 million for Glen Burnie projects

`Would greatly help'

Board gives county $6.7 million for work already earmarked

January 31, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel's interim schools superintendent and county political leaders asked the state Board of Public Works yesterday for $2.3 million in unclaimed school construction money for two projects in Glen Burnie.

The $2.3 million "would greatly help in our efforts to make our school system among the best in Maryland," Kenneth P. Lawson, the interim schools chief, told the board in his appeal for extra money.

To emphasize the point, he was flanked by County Executive Janet S. Owens and nearly 20 members of the county's legislative delegation, school board and County Council.

The projects, Lawson said, "are critical to the education and welfare of our young people."

Also yesterday, the board, as expected, awarded the county $6.7 million for renovations and additions at 16 schools - including a new gym at Crofton Elementary - from $110 million in state funds that had been earmarked for specific school projects.

The Board of Public Works, which consists of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, has $150 million to allot to school construction throughout the state.

After the $110 million was designated for specific projects - including Anne Arundel's $6.7 million - that left $40 million up for grabs.

"This is not going to be an easy decision," said Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, sitting in for Glendening yesterday.

Anne Arundel wants the $2.3 million from that extra money for the following two projects:

The new Glendale Elementary in Glen Burnie, which replaces the old school and opened to pupils this month. The $14.7 million building was paid for by the county, but the school system says the new building was needed to address overcrowding, so it should receive $2.1 million in state support.

A new $232,000 gym for North County High in Glen Burnie. The school was a middle school until 1993, and some of its facilities are inadequate for high school students, officials said.

"Limited teaching space has resulted in some students' inability to get their mandatory physical education requirements satisfied until the second semester of their senior year," Lawson said.

He also requested the board give the county the go-ahead to plan for major overhauls of Harman Elementary in Hanover and Pasadena Elementary; for air-conditioning and the addition of a science wing at Arundel High in Gambrills; and for a new elementary school in the Fort Meade area.

That school, to be called Seven Oaks Elementary, is in anticipation of new housing planned for the Army base that will bring up to 700 new students into Anne Arundel schools.

"Building this school now will greatly enhance our ability to receive these new students with minimal overcrowding," Lawson said.

The board will decide who gets the extra money in May.

The $150 million the governor has set aside for school construction is less than in recent years.

The amount, however, fulfills Glendening's target of $1.6 billion during his eight-year administration to renovate older buildings and add new classrooms.

During yesterday's Board of Public Works meeting, 13 school systems asked for a share of the $40 million of unassigned money, submitting requests that totaled almost $160 million.

The biggest requests were from Prince George's, Frederick, Howard and Calvert counties.

Sun staff writer Howard Libit contributed to this article.

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