New corridor planned for Perry Hall High School

Council must OK plan aimed at easing crowding

April 18, 2003|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

The school system is planning to use savings from construction projects to pay for construction of a hallway at Perry Hall High School, where crowded corridors have been a persistent problem.

"It will help the traffic flow," said Superintendent Joe A. Hairston, who found the money for the addition after receiving complaints from parents and county politicians.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. mentioned the project in his budget message Wednesday. The County Council must approve the transfer of the $400,000 in savings, but council members say that shouldn't be a problem.

Councilmen Vincent J. Gardina and Joseph Bartenfelder lobbied for construction of the corridor, which will connect the high school's main building with a newer addition.

"It'll be a major help," said Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat.

Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, said he didn't "anticipate any kind of problem" with council approval of the project. Design work is expected to start in the summer.

While class sizes at Perry Hall High are not large, the school is 170 students over its capacity of 2,110. Congested hallways and long cafeteria lines are problems, and parents have complained.

In response, school officials have adjusted lunch schedules, redirected stairway traffic and modified doors to ease traffic flow. But parents and community leaders said the measures weren't enough.

Parents and school officials said the new corridor should help ease crowding. The hallway was supposed to be built when a wing was added onto the school, but it was cut from the budget because of cost.

"I'm thrilled, very happy that things are moving," said Jodi Shaefer, a Perry Hall PTSA official.

The project will take about 14 months and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2004-2005 school year, said Donald F. Krempel, executive director of physical facilities.

Two consultants - one commissioned by the county, the other by the school system - will look at enrollment trends and school boundaries in northeast Baltimore County to see if there are additional steps that should be taken.

Perry Hall is within one of the county's designated growth areas. School system projections indicate Perry Hall High will remain above capacity at least through the 2012-2013 school year.

Hairston said Perry Hall High will add another lunch period and fine-tune students' schedules to further reduce crowding.

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