Edgewood community discusses school repairs

Members of the Edgewood Community Council took on the school system Wednesday, challenging them about conditions at a local elementary school.

The lengthy discussion at Wednesday's meeting followed a presentation by Seleste Harris, of the Harford County Education Association, which highlighted issues at William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School. These problems included rusty pipes, broken cabinets and signs of mold throughout both buildings, Harris said. The photographs she presented also showed water damages, stains, duct-taped pipes and tar from what she said was the roof "oozing" into the ceilings.

Air-conditioning will be installed in the William Paca building and parts of Old Post Road this summer, according to school board member Robert Frisch, who was at the meeting, along with board member Nancy Reynolds.

Plans to replace the buildings, Frisch said, were put on hold when the county and school system decided to do a comprehensive study on all county facilities.

Numerous repairs have been made to William Paca/Old Post, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cornell Brown said during the meeting. Maintaining the building is an "ongoing process," he added.

One of the community members asked Brown why the school system built new high schools while the conditions of the elementary schools were so poor. One of the main priorities of the school system is building capacity, Brown said, which he said had to be handled at the secondary level.

"There are many issues that the county had to deal with over the years and we still have a lot of work left to do," he said.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs attended the meeting as well, and asked Brown about the school system's policy on notifying parents about issues such as lead paint and asbestos. Brown responded that the school system follows guidelines set by the state.

Board member Reynolds was a principal at Bel Air Middle School, she said, and was familiar with some of the issues at William Paca/Old Post. She assured attending citizens no children would be put in harm's way.

"We would not send your children or your grandchildren or any child in this county to a school that is unsafe," she said.

Frisch also said many of the issues pointed out in Harris' presentation had already been addressed.

Trash transfer site

Councilman Dion Guthrie and Jacobs both briefly spoke at the proposed trash transfer site in the Joppa area. Although the county executive put it in the budget, Guthrie said he was going to try to remove it.

Jacobs also said she had heard from residents, especially in the Gunpowder homeowners association, about potential traffic concerns and that a traffic study should be done in light of that.

Other business

There are two vacancies on the community council, which Chairman Jansen Robinson said he wants to fill with student representatives from the area.

Buddy Moore, president of First Watergate Homeowners Association, gave a brief presentation on their efforts to clean up the neighborhood, including picking up trash. Robinson acknowledged the neighborhood's efforts and said it's one of many communities in Edgewood trying to move forward and revitalize.

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