Board reviews capital proposal

Baltimore County officials debate how to plan for potential new high school

September 23, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County school board wrestled last night with how to proceed in planning for a new high school to serve the northeastern area of the county.

Board member Rodger C. Janssen said he wants to make building a new high school a priority. He expressed concern that the county is turning its high schools into "warehouses" by putting additions on existing buildings rather than building new ones.

He opposed a 400-seat addition planned for Kenwood High School, one of the crowded campuses whose enrollment would be eased by a new school. Others are Perry Hall and Towson high schools.

The board met last night for a work session on Superintendent Joe A. Hairston's 2005-2006 capital budget proposal, which includes the $11 million Kenwood addition. The board must vote on the $156 million construction request before submitting it to the county and state.

Hairston's request includes money for the construction of Woodholme Elementary and Windsor Mill Middle schools, projects that are under way; renovations at nine middle schools; and roof replacements at 11 schools. It includes $3 million for land acquisition, but that money is not tied to any specific project or parcel of land.

Barbara Burnopp, the county schools' budget director, said the system would lose leverage in negotiations if it disclosed what land it wants to buy.

Before the system can request any money for a new high school, it must acquire land on which to build.

Board member John A. Hayden III said that he is "very, very interested" in a new high school, but that he does not think enrollment projections meet criteria for state funding.

Another board member, Luis E. Borunda, said he would like the school system to at least look at land for a high school, given the support for a school voiced by community groups.

"To not move forward in some manner, shape or form, I think, would be a slap in their faces," Borunda said.

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