THE HOWARD County school system is making a last attempt to acquire a small parcel of land vital to the construction of a northeastern elementary school in Ellicott City.
The Board of Education had on its agenda last week a resolution to begin condemnation proceedings on 1.3 acres across from the Long Gate Shopping Center.
The land is needed for access to the school site, school officials said.
But the item was taken off the agenda to give the school system one more chance to acquire the land without beginning the condemnation process in court, which can take more than a year.
Courtney Watson, the school board chairman, said condemnation is the last resort in cases in which an agreement cannot be reached.
"We always try to find a willing seller, but if we can't and believe it's in the best interest and in the public good, we have no choice but to condemn," she said, noting that an agreement can still be reached during the condemnation process.
In the spring, the school system reached an agreement with the YMCA of Central Maryland and VFW Post No. 7472 and acquired about 22 acres for the new school.
Besides the proposed capital budget for next year, school officials also unveiled last week several new projects in their long-term plans: additions at Elkridge and Manor Woods elementary schools in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and expansion at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary in 2010 by incorporating a modular classroom pod into the main building.
The school system is also looking to build an addition at Waverly Elementary School.
That project, in addition to the one at Manor Woods, means the school system would not have to build a 788-seat replacement building for West Friendship Elementary - saving $18 million, school officials said.
The plan is contingent on a $60,000 septic system study for Manor Woods and Triadelphia Ridge, which do not have public sewerage.
Results are expected by the end of the year, said Raymond Brown, the school system's chief operating officer.
School officials are expected to add money for a new western middle school in the fiscal year 2009 and 2010 budgets. The school is scheduled to open in 2011.
High school SAT scores
Howard County school officials released the average SAT scores of its high schools at the school board meeting last week.
Class of 2005 results showed improvement at almost all of the county's 11 high schools. A 12th school, Marriotts Ridge, opened last month with ninth- and 10th-graders.
The countywide average was 1113 on a 1600-point scale, a 16-point increase from last year.
Here is a school-by-school breakdown of the combined average score:
................... 2003 2004 2005
Atholton 1083 1048 1144
Centennial 1193 1176 1178
Glenelg 1102 1094 1131
Hammond 1056 1058 1093
Howard 1050 1058 1068
Long Reach 1024 1045 1062
Mount Hebron 1090 1112 1138
Oakland Mills 1061 1066 1061
Reservoir n/a n/a 1068
River Hill 1137 1133 1142
Wilde Lake 1079 1091 1097