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'Potty parity' for girls is demanded in design of new Country Walk school


It was a big deal during last year's legislative session, a problem at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and a minor concern at some other public buildings. Now, potty parity has arrived at a Harford County elementary school.

More girls bathrooms should be included in the design for a new elementary school because it takes longer for them to fasten and unfasten their "snaps, bows and ties," said school board president Anne Sterling. "Little girls, like adult women, take longer than little boys to get in and out of the bathroom."

Instead of an equal number of facilities, girls should get five toilets for every three toilets or urinals for boys, she said Monday at a school board meeting. "This would make the girls a little more equal."

Sandy Stevenson, division director for Greiner Inc., the Timonium-based architectural firm that designed the elementary school in the Country Walk community in Bel Air, said the firm would try to change its design to accommodate Ms. Sterling's request. Mr. Stevenson is the project director for the Country Walk school.

The board approved designs for that school and an addition to Bel Air Middle School at a special meeting on Monday. The contracts had previously beenwarded to two architectural firms. Both projects are to be completed by September 1994.

Ms. Sterling also asked Greiner to consider adding toilet lids in adult bathrooms.

"Female principals, at elementary schools, sometimes have to change outfits during the day," Ms. Sterling said. Having lids on the toilets would make it easier to change clothes because women could use the toilet lids as shelves to hold their clothes as they change, she said.

Mr. Stevenson said the 600-student school at Country Walk was a challenge to design because of wetlands on the 18-acre site. In order to fit the 62,573-foot, $6 million school there, the playing fields will be located 300 feet away.

The building will also include two large glass walls in the media center, and a "clock tower" will provide a focal point to the exterior of the building.

Ray Keech, county superintendent, asked for carpeting instead of tile to be installed on both floors of the school. Mr. Keech said the ability of carpeting to muffle sound outweighs its replacement cost. He said "quietness" contributed to "more of a reverent behavior" and more learning among students.

While carpeting and tile cost about the same to install, carpeting must be replaced every 12 years while tile lasts about 30 years. The board approved Mr. Keech's suggestion, along with his request that exterior ramps be installed so that handicapped students could be evacuated easily in an emergency.

Frederwick Ward Associates of Bel Air, also an architectural firm, said its design for the 38,480-square-foot middle school addition will link three existing wings and the central portion of the building. Students at the sprawling building sometimes have long walks down halls or must go outside to get from one part of the building to another.

The nearly $4 million cost, which includes furniture, will increase the 32-year-old school's capacity from about 1,000 students to 1,300. The addition includes 12 classrooms, a computer laboratory, a band room and two teacher planning rooms.

The addition will be built at the southern end of the school at right angles to the three wings. Brick and glass covered walkways will link the wings.

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