Building schools again priority

Shift from renovations to construction at 3 sites to add classroom space

`Focus back on capacity'

Carroll County

April 25, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

After a one-year hiatus, funding and building schools in fast-growing areas of the county have regained top priority billing, Carroll school planners told the Board of Education yesterday.

Projects that add classroom space "are again the cornerstone" of the facilities master plan, facilities director Raymond Prokop said. "Last year, we focused on [renovations] because they had been ... neglected as we focused on new projects. But the plan before you turns the focus back on capacity."

This year's preliminary plan includes a new elementary school to open in August 2005 in Mount Airy, a new middle school to open August 2007 in South Carroll and a new school for the county's alternative education programs to open in August 2003. The proposal also calls for a North Carroll Middle modernization project to be completed in November 2004 and a systemic renovation of Charles Carroll Elementary's water supply, septic system and electric service.

The school board will hold a public hearing on the facilities master plan - which outlines the system's school construction and improvement projects for the next decade - at 7 p.m. May 15 at Cranberry Station Elementary. The five-member panel is expected to vote on the plan at its meeting June 12.

School board President Susan W. Krebs said jokingly that it would be better to hold such public meetings at the county's older buildings rather than always inviting the public to the district's newest and shiniest schools.

"We need to have these things at our needy facilities so people remember we have needs," she said. "We need some place that is not air-conditioned on a hot evening."

Changes to this year's plan include:

Removing plans for a new elementary school in the southeast area of the county. Recent adjustments to elementary school attendance boundaries made this project unnecessary.

Scaling back plans to build a fine-arts addition for and modernize South Carroll High. This year's preliminary plan calls for proceeding with the fine-arts wing while pushing back the modernization project unless and until the school requires it.

"I don't want to see the project put off so long because we've made it so big," Krebs explained.

Holding off making plans for major changes to the Career and Technology Center at Westminster High until administrators complete a full review of the county's career and technology programs, as requested by interim Superintendent Charles I. Ecker.

Removing proposals for media center renovations and alternative education suites. Both initiatives were bumped with the returned focus to school construction.

Adding a modernization project at Westminster West Middle, possibly to begin in 2012.

Returning a new northeast-area elementary school to the plan as an undated future project. The school board last year canceled tentative plans for the school because declining enrollment projections indicated it would not be needed. But with major housing developments planned for the Hampstead and Manchester areas, school planners again want to consider the need for a new school there.

In other business, the board approved the promotion of facilities planner Al Eilbacher to become construction supervisor.

The post was vacated last summer with the promotion of Prokop, who became facilities director when Kathleen Sanner accepted a post with the Harford County school district.

A certified industrial arts instructor, Eilbacher taught seven years at Bel Air and Edgewood high schools before taking a job as a project manager and superintendent in private development.

In 1989, he joined the Harford County public school system, where he worked in construction, planning and facilities management.

He took a job with Carroll schools in 1998, where he has had the high-profile and much-maligned task of calculating the district's student enrollment projections.

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