Plans to replace Lansdowne High School in Baltimore County are progressing in the early stages of design, but the project is actively seeking state funding, according to the executive director of facilities management for Baltimore County Public Schools.
“It has to be funded by the county and the state,” Pradeep “Pete” Dixit said. “Construction funds may take a couple years to come and we don’t know at this point — so anything would be purely speculation.”
A construction date will be decided when the funding is received and the design should be completed sometime toward the end of the next calendar year. The project is expected to take about three or four years to complete when construction begins, Dixit said.
The county invested “huge” capital for the project in Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s recently approved budget, providing $67 million to replace the aging school, which has been an ongoing process for a number of years due to its poor infrastructure and overcrowding issues.
The new structure will be a “beautiful state-of-the-art modern building,” providing energy saving and sustainable features, flexible spaces within the building, and central air conditioning to support the students, Dixit said.
“How transformative the new high school is going to be is exceptionally important,” said Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the southwestern portion of the county.
Quirk, who has long pushed for the new structure, called the upgrade “years and years in the making.”
Plans initially called for Lansdowne to be renovated, but community members were outspoken in support for a new school, Dixit said.
One parent, Dayana Bergman of Baltimore County, has advocated for a new school for the past decade. One of the first issues she noticed was the lack of air conditioning in the classrooms.
“I would pick my kids up from school and they would be soaking wet from having no AC in the building and I just saw that the school was just not being maintained,” she said.
Other issues she noted were heath hazards such as visible cracks in the building and a sinking floor in the music room.
“We should never let any school that brings in children to ever get in those types of conditions,” she said.
Bergman hopes the new structure will set a new standard for Baltimore County and the whole state of Maryland.
“They have waited for a long time and the old building was in poor condition,” he said. “When we build something like this we really add a jewel in the community — it’s going to be a gem of a building so we are very excited about it.”
The existing Lansdowne High School was built in 1963. During a 2019 tour of the building with Olszewski and then-interim school superintendent Verletta White and a group of elected officials, Principal Ken Miller pointed out the many deficiencies in the building.
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Cramped classrooms with narrow doorways, a lack of storage space for supplies, cracking floors and unleveled hallways that make the school inaccessible to students with disabilities were among them.