Revised Lansdowne High renovation plan to include new lobby, renovated stadium

Details on the revised scope for a $60 million proposed renovation for Lansdowne High School were released online yesterday ahead of next week’s meeting of the Board of Education, where plans will be presented to the board.

The design for a more limited $30 million renovation was rejected earlier this year after school board members requested more funding and a more complete renovation.

“I think it’s a significant improvement from the original plan,” Tom Quirk, the county councilman who represents the district, said of the new design, calling it a “day and night difference.”

At $60 million, the proposed renovation would be the most expensive the county has ever done, Quirk said.

Some proposals in the revised scope include two new classrooms, a lobby expansion and outdoor renovations to the bus loop, parking lot and stadium area.

Renderings by Rubeling and Associates, the company that drafted the design, show a lobby with a ceiling higher than the school’s second floor and walls are made almost entirely of glass.

The original design called for the interior renovation of every classroom as well as the girls locker room. The plan being proposed Tuesday expands on that design by adding two new classrooms, upgrading the auditorium, adding new dance and recording studios and renovating the boys locker room.

The updated design would widen the bus loop and add 46 new parking spaces. Outdoor athletic areas such as the stadium and tennis courts would also be renovated.

Unlike the first plan, hallway flooring surfaces and lockers would be replaced.

If approved by the school board, the revised renovation could be completed by August 2020, the presentation said.

Some in the Lansdowne community oppose a renovation, saying the school is so deteriorated that only a replacement could fix the problems it faces. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot toured Lansdowne High last week as a show of support for a new school.

County officials say a new school would cost twice as much as a renovation, and instead are choosing to fund new schools in the central-northeast corridor of the county, where a booming population is causing overcrowding.

Lansdowne, which has a 1,420 student capacity, has 1,338 students enrolled this year. The renovation would not add seats.

The school system argues that a renovation would solve the community’s concerns at less cost. In an email, spokeswoman Diana Spencer said the renovation will solve the school’s foundation issues permanently and will bring the entire building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It would be easy to say, ‘yeah, of course, we want new high schools everywhere,’” Quirk said in response to Franchot and the school community requesting a new school. “But I’m also fiscally responsible, and I also know how to read a capital budget, and I refuse to be a grandstander and just tell people what they want to hear,” he said.

Nick Stewart, who represents the Lansdowne area on the Baltimore County school board, said during the presentation he plans to ask “pointed and difficult questions” to make sure the design addresses the community’s concerns.

Despite remaining questions, Stewart is optimistic — if the design meets the community’s standards, he said, “the project does promise to be life changing."

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