Enjoy Red Pump school while you can

  • The newly constructed Red Pump Elementary school is nearing completion and is scheduled to open on the first day of the 2011-2012 school year.
The newly constructed Red Pump Elementary school is nearing… (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF,…)

As was reported in The Aegis Wednesday, the new Red Pump Elementary School north of Bel Air is ready to open its doors to about 700 students in a little more than a month.

The school's first principal, Blaine Hawley, is understandably excited about the opening of the $31 million school. "It was truly designed with the children in mind," she told our education reporter, Kayla Bawroski, during a tour of the building.

Surely the surrounding community's excitement should match that of the school's principal. A new school building is a cause for joy and celebration and, of course, for some envy of the kids who will be among the first to attend.

The Red Pump school actually was designed for more than its students, as those who have followed the political saga surrounding the project will surely remember.

Overcrowded conditions in so many of the existing elementary schools in the Bel Air area made it imperative that at least one new school be built to relieve that situation. In addition, the county's law tying new development to school capacity had triggered a general building moratorium around Bel Air until the overcrowding situation could be alleviated.

The only question was where the new school would be placed, and that touched off a big fight between school officials, who initially favored a site near Harford Community College, and the Harford County Council, which favored the Red Pump site. Since the council controls the flow of money for schools, its view trumped the school system's.

We're not going to replay that controversy. The school is built, the furniture is delivered, the classrooms are being made ready and the teachers will be reporting very soon, followed by the kids. In addition to building the school, the people running the school system successfully completed a redistricting process last year to balance enrollments among the remaining schools in the area. As a result, no school in the greater Bel Air area will be viewed as overcrowded this next school year, either in the eyes of the county's law, or in actual numbers of students versus desks.

How long this equilibrium lasts is anyone's guess, although Bel Air town official Terry Hanley noted earlier this week it's not likely to be for long. As we reported last Friday, housing construction is starting to rebound locally, especially around Bel Air, and that's in part because the long-awaited BRAC buyers are finally starting to appear.

It's great to have a new school, even one which is likely to indirectly draw more people to our county, and hence more schoolchildren. Let's enjoy it while we can, before it's time to pony up money for another new one.

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