Meeting to focus on Glenelg's plan for septic system

EDUCATION

Education Beat

News from Howard County schools and colleges

April 03, 2005|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

SEVERAL western Howard County residents have raised questions about the design of a new septic system for a 400-seat addition at Glenelg High School.

The Maryland Department of the Environment is holding a public hearing at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the high school to address concerns related to the septic system.

The meeting's outcome could be crucial for the school system, which for months had worried that the August 2006 opening of the addition could be pushed back because of difficulties in obtaining permits for the septic system.

School officials have said they need MDE's approval for groundwater discharge permits by the end of this month to complete construction by August 2006. Discharge permits - which regulate disposal of treated wastewater into the state's groundwater - must be issued before the school system can obtain construction permits.

"We're not talking delay," said Bill Brown, the school system's director of school construction. "Our hope is that we could resolve it with this meeting."

MDE officials said a discharge permit could be issued this month if the agency received no public comment.

In January, several families in Dayton - who say they support the addition at Glenelg - expressed concerns in a letter to MDE about the possible effects of the planned septic system on the area's drinking water quality. Residents rely on wells in western Howard County because the area lacks public sewer and water lines.

For years, school officials have been trying to expand capacity at Glenelg High, which is 27 percent over capacity this year with 1,273 students.

Previous plans, including building a small wastewater treatment plant in the area, were opposed by community members. Three years ago, the school system reached a deal to build two septic systems - one for Glenelg and another for a developer's project for a 30-home community on the adjoining Musgrove family farm.

Revised state regulations forced the school system to redesign the septic systems as a single, shared unit that would serve both Glenelg and the proposed development.

Paperless?

The Howard County Board of Education is considering distributing its documents and other related information over the Internet.

Paperless distribution would provide more public access, bring down paper costs and reduce staff time associated with assembling board agendas and documents, according to a report presented to the school board this month.

"Eighty-five percent of our parents have Internet access," said Adrianna Abate, the technology officer.

The school system could save nearly $5,000 in printing, courier time and mileage, as well as an estimated $36,000 in "soft costs" that includes staff time, Abate said. At the same time, there would be costs associated with electronic distribution, including buying a server and laptops for board members.

Several school districts in Maryland, including Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties, have hired outside contractors to manage their school boards' Web sites, where agendas, reports and other documents are available to the public.

The Baltimore County school system has an internal staff to manage its site.

Abate recommended that the school system pilot the program for six months and that its staff members manage the paperless operation.

Board members expressed their support.

"I'm absolutely certain it can work" said board member Patricia S. Gordon, who has been pushing for electronic distribution of board documents.

Contact the writer at 410-715-2837, or at hanah.cho@baltsun.com.

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