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Howard County Executive Calvin Ball moves one step closer to building 13th high school

County Executive Calvin Ball prefiled legislation Thursday to get one step closer to breaking ground for Howard’s 13th high school in Jessup.

Ball’s legislation moves to reach the final phase of acquiring the 77-acre site on Mission Road from Gould Property Co., the general partner of Chase Land and Annapolis Junction Holdings.

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Ball now seeks approval from the County Council to sign a Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement with the companies. The council’s approval “will ensure groundbreaking in spring 2020,” according to a news release.

The 287,000-square-foot high school is projected to accommodate 1,650 students and is designed to have 579 parking spaces and 34 school bus parking spaces. The county school board approved design plans for the high school at its March 14 meeting.

The Howard school board unanimously approved the design for the county’s new high school in Jessup at its Thursday meeting.

The school is set to be completed by September 2023 with a price tag of $130.7 million.

The facility will be the county’s first new high school to be built since Marriotts Ridge High School in Marriottsville opened in 2005.

When Marriotts Ridge opened, enrollment across all the county’s high schools was 15,578 and for all K-12 students it was 48,596, according to the news release. A 2018 feasibility study projects that 2023 high school enrollment will reach 19,620 with a total school system enrollment at 60,500 students.

“Alleviating school overcrowding is a priority for me and moving forward with this legislation will help us make significant progress,” Ball said in a statement Thursday. “Working together, we will build High School 13.”

Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said in a statement, “Eighteen years between new high schools is far too long for a county that is thriving and growing as rapidly as Howard County … our students and staff simply couldn’t continue to function effectively in buildings that are nearing 150 percent capacity so I am thrilled that we are on track to open on time.”

The Howard County Board of Education voted on Thursday night to build the county’s 13th high school near Mission Road in Jessup, ending a tense months-long process to choose where to place the school.

In March 2018, the school board approved in a 4-3 vote the Mission Road site over Troy Park in Elkridge. Prior to the decision, community members became divided as to where the new high school should be built.

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Becky McKirahan, of the grassroots community group Why Not Jessup which supported selection of the Mission Road site, said in a statement the group “is very excited” about Ball’s legislation and his commitment to seeing the project through.

“We look forward to the new site and how it will help relieve overcrowded schools and bring our communities together,” McKirahan said. “We see this as a step towards the revitalization of Route 1 and Jessup itself.”

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