October 08, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- Faced with a development boom in the Laurel area, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education has asked the county to either set aside part of a proposed 1,600-home project site for a new school or ask the builder to contribute millions to build a new one.

News of the Aug. 29 letter from the board and Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell to County Executive Janet S. Owens may refocus the discussion on a separate 78-acre parcel in Russett that is controlled by the board and has been envisioned as an elementary school site for more than a decade.

Community leaders have fought to keep that parcel out of the hands of Russett Center Limited Partnership, the developer of Russett, which has wanted to build houses on part of the site.

Those leaders say that with a looming military job boom at Fort Meade, the board should begin construction of an elementary school there to meet the population demand.

Should the Board of Education build the long-planned school on the Russett property now, or take steps to sell the site for private development?

Not worth staying without new school

As parents of a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old living in Russett, we would welcome a new elementary school. We are not satisfied with the overcrowding and physical conditions of our current schools and plan to move out of the community once our oldest is ready to start school.

If we had a new school (similar to the new Harman Elementary in Hanover) to look forward to, we would probably entertain staying in our lovely Russett community.

Thomas and Dori Wilson Laurel

Build a school, or face an exodus

A Russett homeowner for more than 12 years, I remember being told a Russett school would be built. A site sketch that shows an elementary and middle school on the 78-acre site has been around for 10 years.

It was one of the major reasons many people decided to buy in Russett and raise families. Now, the lack of modern "blue-ribbon" school choice is the reason many people with kids move out of Russett. This is a sad fact and is not a good thing for our community's long-term viability.

Prior to BRAC's posting net gains in new homes and jobs for our area, we were told the Board of Education decided the 78 acres was "apparently surplus" (when it was not) in a developer letter to Russett proper. They also wanted to build age-restricted housing that the small area plan had added as a last-minute amendment.

The land was quickly appraised and a study by the school board performed. With BRAC looming, both the school board and county still do not really know what the true impact on schools will be. Russett is also the only large homeowners' association that did not get its own elementary school.

Because the small area plan, appraisal and study were all done before BRAC, the board of education must keep the 78 acres of land intact and build new schools next to Russett.

Both Brock Bridge and Maryland City elementary schools are 35- to 45-year-old infrastructures that have a 40-year life span. Millions for repairs would be better spent creating new and larger school facilities with parks on the 78 acres. Redistricting is not the only solution to this situation.

Once this largest of school system land assets in West County is gone, it can never be replaced.

Tim Reyburn Laurel

Investing in future of kids worthwhile

The portion of Russett land owned by the Board of Education should be used for an elementary school. If the land is given up for private development, where will we build a school in the future?

Let's put something aside for our children's future now.

Tom Brenner Laurel

Time is now to build new school

I strongly believe that the Board of Education should build a new elementary school on the Russett property rather than sell the site for private development.

Elementary schools in our area are already overcrowded and poorly maintained. Student-to-teacher ratios are so high that teachers are not able to adequately meet the educational needs of our children and of the "No Child Left Behind" initiative. The Russett property was originally designated for the purpose of building a school, and owners in the Russett community have been promised that the land would have that use.

There is no better time than now to come through on that commitment and give our children the educational experience they deserve.

Dana Kraft Laurel

A school will curb growth, crowding

Build the school and stop the development that causes overcrowding of surrounding schools.

Stephanie Jankowski Laurel

Full support behind building a school

I fully support having a school in our neighborhood. I am a Russett resident.

Brian Joseph Markovitz Esq. Laurel

Now is the time for Russett school

The Board of Education should proceed with building an elementary school in Russett now.

Arlene Sullivan Laurel

Patience is wearing over poor schools

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