Construction on schedule at 5 schools, officials find

EDUCATION NOTES

August 10, 2008|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV

Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin got a firsthand look at the use of capital funds during a five-school construction tour last week.

Cousin was joined by school board members and top-ranking central office personnel.

On Wednesday, the group visited Longfellow, Centennial Lane, Clemens Crossings and Worthington elementary schools, and Glenelg High School. Worthington and Clemens Crossing are undergoing systemic renovations. Longfellow, Centennial Lane and Glenelg are amid major addition projects.

"At this time of year, we are pushing to get everything out of the way," Cousin said. "We are ahead of schedule."

Cousin said he was pleased with the progress of the schools he visited.

"There is no doubt everything will open on time," he said.

Worthington's systemic renovation costs $11.8 million. Clemens Crossing's costs $10.4 million. Systemic renovations take place during two summers and include replacing ventilation and air ducts, rewiring electrical systems and refreshing furnishings and fixtures. Both schools are in the second phase of the plan. Since 1992, the Howard County school system has completed about 50 similar summer projects.

Longfellow's $2 million renovation adds three standard classrooms and a relocatable classroom. In addition, the school's parking lot has been expanded by 50 spaces. The project is expected to be complete by the start of the school year.

Centennial Lane's $5.3 million renovation adds five classrooms, three special-education spaces, an art room, a music room and a physical education classroom. In addition, the school's cafeteria has been expanded. The project is to be finished by the start of school, officials said.

The $37.5 million renovation at Glenelg High School adds 400 seats, a new septic system, additional parking, a renovated science classroom area, a refurbished auditorium, stage and a drama complex. The project is expected to be completed in December.

The entourage spent close to six hours walking throughout each site, inspecting the progress.

"They make it look seamless," said Mamie Perkins, Cousin's chief of staff.

School board Chairman Frank Aquino marveled at the progress and said the money is being well-spent.

"An awful lot of work gets done in a small amount of time," he said.

"The quality of work by the staff is top-notch," he said. "Everything is brand new. They use high-quality materials."

Schools in Howard County are bustling during the summer. Schools not undergoing construction projects act as housing for camps and summer school. This year, 36 schools were used to house academic programs, Cousin said.

"Years ago, two buildings were used for summer school," he said.

Orientation

An estimated 350 new employees will participate in a four-day orientation starting Tuesday at Reservoir High School.

Officials will introduce new employees to the rules and procedures of the school system and offer them an opportunity to visit their home schools. One of the highlights will take place Thursday, when top-ranking school personal such as Superintendent Cousin plan to serve lunch to teachers during an event titled "We Are Here to Serve You." On Friday, the teachers will report to their assigned schools.

Last year, 515 new employees joined the Howard County school system. Two years ago, 513 new teachers were hired. As the school system stops building new schools, school officials expect the need for new teachers to decrease.

A move to Channel 95

Howard County Schools are moving. ...

On Aug. 23, Comcast Cable will reset its channels, moving the school system's educational access station from Channel 72 to 95.

The channel will continue to be part of Comcast's limited basic service and available with subscription to the Family Tier Service. For information about the channel changes, contact Comcast at 888-COMCAST, or www.comcast.net. Verizon FiOS customers can view the school system's TV programming on Verizon Channel 42.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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