Baltimore school officials announced last night that they would like to purchase the Planned Parenthood Building on Howard Street, a move that could end a two-year struggle over where to put a downtown high school.
The school board voted to pay a $50,000 refundable deposit on the purchase of the building at 602-610 N. Howard St.
Chief Financial Officer Mark Smolarz said the system will do a study before the board is asked to vote on the purchase. He said they would look at a number of factors, including renovation costs and whether the site is a feasible location for the school.
The school system looked at many locations during the past two years, including two on Charles Street that were opposed by business leaders. If the building is purchased for $1.6 million, renovations would be completed by September 2005.
For the coming school year, students will stay at the current downtown location at the Port Discovery Children's Museum, but will have to move temporarily to another location in the 2004-2005 school year.
The school board also voted to put a new small high school, Baltimore Freedom Academy, at Baltimore City Community College downtown beginning next month.
As the school board ended its meeting, a group of parents protested outside. The parents of students at the Lois T. Murray School said they are angry at school officials who have refused to discuss changes at the school.
The school system voted last night to let Kennedy Krieger Institute run the school beginning next month, a measure that will save the system about $513,000. The school system recently notified staff members that they could apply for a job at another special education center in the system or apply to Kennedy Krieger if they wished to stay.
Parents who heard rumors of the change went to the school for answers, but "were talked to nasty and escorted out," said Evette Robinson, who has a 12-year-old daughter there.
The school's 40 students have multiple disabilities and are intellectually limited.
Gayle Amos, who is in charge of special education for the system, said she could not discuss the plans with the parents until the board voted to approve the contract with Kennedy Krieger. She plans to meet with parents Friday or Monday to discuss what additional programs they would like to see at the school.
She said the system hopes to increase enrollment to 90.