Over video call, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved designs for Old Mill West High and reviewed policies regarding state of emergency, equity and board member ethics on Wednesday afternoon.
At the meeting, school board members went over the designs of the new high school in Severn. The project budget would be $157.2 million, according to the design report.
The site in Severn is currently made up of “agricultural land with several residences and structures related to the Papa John’s Farm," and the construction of the school would demolish 50 acres.
The school would have a student capacity of 1,882 high school students and include a regional special education program for 80 students. The design also supports sustainability efforts.
Through strategies like minimizing site disruption, soil erosion, water conservation, use of sustainable materials and other strategies the building could become certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
Antwine requested that the policy committee look into developing a policy on state emergency responses.
“I have to stand on the fact that this is a crisis. We don’t wait to make decisions when lives are at stake like this, we have to weigh in where we can and utilize the tools we can as a board,” she said.
Superintendent George Arlotto advised that the board not focus on a policy but instead review procedures to see what could be improved upon.
“We will take time to really reflect on what we handled and what we’ve done up to this point and put it in writing so we have procedures and responses to follow,” he said.
Other board members pushed back with reasoning that the school system, similar to other districts in the state and in the country, are still undergoing day-by-day changes to try and combat the spread of COVID-19.
“It seems like the policy is not going to do us a lot of good right now even though the intent behind it is right," Terry Gilleland said. “There are things in place beyond a policy, for lack of a better term, that allow for a continuity of operations during a state of emergency.”
After the back and forth, Antwine with support from a second school board member, Dana Schallheim, asked that the policy committee review a possible policy.
The Evening Sun Newsletter
Get your evening news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.
School board members also reviewed other policies. The policy set on agenda preparation and distribution went through a final reading before being voted on and passed. Two other polices went through a first reading.
The board deliberated over the policy on board member ethics to understand where policy language was sourced from and clarified the role of school board members in a time of transition from appointment to elected members.
In other board news, the board approved contracts for the AVID program of $132,241 to continue providing materials and membership, including the addition of Crofton High School as one of the schools to have the program.