School gets $2.1 million in state funds

Money will pay to finish Glen Burnie elementary

`Take care of ... loose ends'

Part of $8.8 million in aid for construction projects

Anne Arundel

May 09, 2002|By Michael Dresser and Stephen Kiehl | Michael Dresser and Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

The state Board of Public Works approved yesterday $2.1 million in additional school construction money for Anne Arundel County to wrap up work at Glendale Elementary School in Glen Burnie.

The county will use the money to demolish the old school building, and build parking lots and sports fields for the school, which opened in January. The board did not fund a $230,000 request for a gym at North County High School.

The money was part of the final $50 million in school construction funds of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's eight-year term. Yesterday's allocation brings the state's bricks-and-mortar spending on education under Glendening to $1.6 billion -- giving him grounds to boast that he has fulfilled a promise to public schools.

"We have met or exceeded our commitment to providing students with state-of-the-art classrooms in which to learn and prepare for the knowledge-based economy," the governor said in a news release.

Funding approved yesterday brings the state's total spending on school construction for next fiscal year to $156.5 million -- less than in recent years but still generous for a time of economic downturn.

Anne Arundel County received $8.8 million of that. The first installment -- $6.7 million -- was approved in January and will go to renovations and additions at 16 schools, including a new gym at Crofton Elementary.

Glendale Elementary Principal Richard Chilipko was thrilled to get the money to complete construction at the 500-pupil school. He said lead paint removal and asbestos abatement must be done in the old school building before it can be torn down and replaced with a parking lot.

The school will get new practice fields, which are shared with Glen Burnie High School.

"I'm glad they keep allotting the money so we can take care of these loose ends," Chilipko said.

The biggest winners in yesterday's allocations were counties in the Washington suburbs and Southern Maryland. Montgomery, the state's most populous county, came in first with $9.9 million; fast-growing Calvert County was second with $5.9 million.

Third and fourth were Prince George's, with $5.8 million, and Charles County, with $5 million.

Baltimore County received a relatively small share of yesterday's largesse -- $1.1 million for boiler projects at five schools. The county received more than $11 million in January, for a total of $12.5 million.

Baltimore was far from the biggest winner in terms of new money but did better than the county. The $4.2 million it received yesterday, bringing its total for the year to $13.8 million, was sixth among the state's school districts. The only major project receiving financing was the renovation of Southern High School, which received $3.5 million.

The city received other good news, however. The state said it would fund three big projects in the future.

Two are new schools -- a combined elementary and middle school in Southeast Baltimore, where the state's share is estimated at $11.4 million, and a similar school at Lexington Terrace, with an estimated $9.8 million contribution.

The third allocation is $10.3 million toward the renovation of Dunbar High School -- a project that had the ardent and influential support of Sen. Clarence W. Blount, dean of the city's Senate delegation and a former Dunbar principal.

Mark Smolarz, chief operating officer for city schools, said local officials were satisfied considering that the state cut its school construction budget in half. "We wanted more but we are happy with what we got."

City officials were somewhat disappointed with the news about Lexington Terrace. They had hoped to get construction money to build the school next year.

The school system was also dismayed that its request for money to plan for a middle school for Mount Washington Elementary this coming school year was denied.

Yale Stenzler, executive director of the state's public school construction program, told the board there were concerns about the school's enrollment projections and the lack of approval for the construction site.

In other Baltimore-area districts:

Carroll County got $3 million, $2.5 million of which is for the renovation of North Carroll Middle School. It also received approval to include $5.8 million in construction plans for an elementary school in Mount Airy.

Harford County was given $1.6 million for current projects and received approval to include $20.5 million in renovation plans for North Harford High School.

Howard County received $4.5 million, including $3.2 million toward an elementary school in its northeast.

In his news release, Glendening said the school projects his administration has funded reflect his commitment to Smart Growth. He noted that 79 percent of the school construction money allocated during the past four years has gone into areas designated for growth.

The governor got little chance to exult at the board meeting, where Comptroller William Donald Schaefer complained that Glendening hadn't consulted with him about his choices. "The governor isn't the world," Schaefer said. "He thinks he's God, I know that."

Sun staff writer Liz Bowie contributed to this article.

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