When Carroll educators took their case for a New Windsor Middle School replacement to him, Gov. William Donald Schaefer asked not about the project but about local support for the Linowes tax restructuring plan.
As Vernon F. Smith Jr., Carroll's director of school supportservices, began the district's presentation to the Board of Public Works, the governor interrupted to ask about support for the $800 million tax plan among the county's legislative delegation.
It was a question the governor, who chairs the three-member board, repeated to representatives of the other 12 school districts vying for $57.7 million in school construction money for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Although Superintendent R. Edward Shilling met with the county delegation to discuss the tax plan, Smith said it was difficult to determine where Carroll's senators and delegates stood on the proposal.
Schaefer told at least one county school superintendent that he would vote for "your schools" as soon as the Linowes package is approved by the General Assembly.
The state board awarded about $45 million for construction, renovation and portable relocation projects recommended by the Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction. That means only about $12 million is left forthe 49 projects -- with a $48 million price tag -- denied by the IACand appealed to the board.
Carroll educators, though, are not seeking money for the New Windsor project but planning recognition -- state acknowledgment that a school is needed. State recognition would allow Carroll to proceed with the project next year and return the following year for state construction dollars.
Earlier this year, theIAC denied planning recognition for the New Windsor school and a proposed Oklahoma Road middle school, despite an appeal from Carroll officials.
After consulting with the school board, educators decided to press the New Windsor project before the Board of Public Works, which also is composed of the state treasurer and the comptroller of the treasury.
By not appealing the IAC decision, Shilling noted thatthe district could stand to lose money if additional state dollars become available.
During a hearing Wednesday, Smith told the state board that "New Windsor Middle School is, without a doubt, the most obsolete educational facility in Carroll County."
Built in 1936 andexpanded in the 1950s and 1960s, the school "is seriously lacking many amenities required by educational standards today" for its 450 students, Smith said.
Educators have described the school's classrooms as small and cramped. Smith noted in his presentation that special subject area classrooms are inadequate in "number and quality."
The cafeteria, besides serving as a food service area, also triples as a weight room and motor development area, Smith said. There is no space in the building for the instrumental music program, which is held in a portable unit installed in the 1950s.
Following his presentation, Smith said he believed the replacement school would receive planning recognition if the board decided to give the go-ahead for projects. Smith said the project has been highly recommended by the IAC.
School officials expect to receive a response from the board soon.
The state board did not ask specific questions about the New Windsor project. Instead, the questions centered on how much state money the district would receive for projects next year and how much the state's share amounts to for building programs.
Next fiscal year, Carroll will receive $4.2 million for construction of Runnymede Elementary School, the new facility for the Taneytown/Uniontown area, a roofing project at South Carroll High School and for the relocation of two state-owned portables from Manchester Elementary to Winfield Elementary.
State dollars cover about 65 percent of a building project, officials said.