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News Maryland Baltimore County Arbutus Lansdowne

Lansdowne Elementary to be replaced with new school

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that a new 700-seat school will replace Lansdowne Elementary School as part of a plan to address overcrowded schools in Baltimore County.

Kamenetz made the announcement regarding the school building on Alma Road during a presentation on the county's fiscal 2015 budget on Tuesday.

Enrollment in southwest Baltimore County elementary schools was 9,919 in 2013 and is expected to grow to 11,289 by 2015, according to 2014-2023 Baltimore County Public Schools projections

"This new elementary school is so important because they had very severe overcrowding issues in Lansdowne," said 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk. "For a moment, it looked like it might take two or three more years to get it in the budget. But, fortunately, the County Executive also advocated for Lansdowne."

In its current state, the school is over state capacity, with 483 students enrolled and a state capacity listed at 313, according to enrollment projections.

The building, constructed in 1965, also lacks air conditioning — an issue for many area schools.

Although the school's design hasn't been determined yet, the project is expected to cost around $30 million, Kamenetz said.

Kamenetz said if the project is approved, construction is expected to start after November 2016 and should be completed within 14 months. The new school will be constructed next to the building currently in use.

"There's a huge revitalization effort going on in Lansdowne right now. We're been very fortunate that we've had several million dollars worth of private investment in Lansdowne and this is yet one more step that Baltimore County is trying to do to get the momentum," said Quirk, who represents the area.

Quirk said the budget adequately addresses school overcrowding in southwest Baltimore County for the next decade.

"I commend [Kamenetz]. I think he went all in on southwest Baltimore County. Instead of addressing this huge issue with overcrowding over the next three to five years, like might have originally been thought, he's decided to make southwest Baltimore County a major priority area," Quirk said.

Arbutus Elementary, Baltimore Highlands Elementary, Halethorpe Elementary and Relay Elementary are also over capacity, according to enrollment projections.

Money is also in the budget for adding 350 seats to elementary schools that serve the communities between Route 40 and Security Boulevard.

That addition is not the only change being made to "eliminate all projected overcrowding" in the southwest area of the county.

There are also plans for a new Catonsville Elementary School at Bloomsbury, a new replacement elementary school at Westowne Elementary, a new replacement school at Relay Elementary and an addition to Westchester Elementary, Kamenetz said.

The proposal is part of a decade-long plan to upgrade school funding and eliminate overcrowding in schools, which includes a request of nearly $460 million in county funds over the next three election year cycles, according to an April 15 county statement.

The entire plan allocates $1.1 billion for school renovation and construction and adds 11,000 seats to county schools over a period of 10 years.

The changes will also address a lack of air conditioning in many of the schools. At the end of the decade long project, 97 percent of county schools will be air conditioned, including every single elementary and middle school, the county statement said.

A public hearing on the budget will be held April 29. Council members are scheduled to vote on the budget May 22.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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