A delegation of lawmakers are urging the Baltimore County school board this week to ignore a consultant’s advice to renovate Towson and Dulaney high schools and instead construct new buildings.
Baltimore County elected leaders, parents and community advocates have said for years that the two aging and overcrowded high schools required major improvements. The school board and county hired the consulting firm CannonDesign to develop construction priorities for an improvement plan for all schools by assessing capacity concerns, educational equity and the condition of facilities.
When the consultants released their recommendations last fall, some parents and advocates were stunned to learn that only renovations — not replacement — were being recommended for the two high schools.
The consultants have since pushed back against critics, stating during school board meetings that “premium” projects, including the replacement of Dulaney and Towson, could defer another 86 renovations beyond 15 years. Every school in the system will undergo renovation or expansion under the plan.
CannonDesign is a global architecture and engineering consulting firm with an office in Baltimore.
State Senator Chris West and State Delegates Cathi Forbes, Michelle Guyton and Nino Mangione together with County Councilmen Wade Kach and David Marks delivered a five-page memo to school board members Tuesday arguing the study contained serious flaws.
For example, the delegation argued that some of the county’s newest schools would be receiving capital improvement funds at the expense of a total rebuild for Towson and Dulaney.
Several of the lawmakers appeared at a school board meeting Tuesday to share their concerns during the public comment period.
West cited the feasibility study’s estimate that a total replacement for Towson and Dulaney would cost about $32 million more than the renovations. If the school system extended the plan to a 16th year, more funding would become available to afford the construction.
Guyton also expressed that new buildings are more efficient and environmentally friendly, which would allow the system to save on the cost of utilities over time.
CannonDesign is expected to issue a final report on the multiyear improvement plan with an estimated timeline for carrying out the projects in September.