County commissioners and school officials could begin discussing a joint Carroll-Frederick high school in Mount Airy next spring.
In a letter to the Mount Airy Planning Commission, Vernon F. Smith Jr., director of Carroll's school support services, said that the concept of a joint high school will be examined as part of the fiscal 1995 planning cycle.
School officials revise the facility master plan, a blueprint for school construction, in the spring. The program is approved along with the county's operating budget in June.
"There's no proposed new high school for that area for some time. When we revisit the facilities master plan in the spring, we will review the request made by the town," Mr. Smith said yesterday.
He said it takes about five years for a school project to proceed from state planning recognition to occupancy.
"We must note that a school 'shared' by two counties would require a major change in the way schools are funded and administered in the State of Maryland," Mr. Smith wrote in the June 9 letter.
A Maryland Department of Education spokesman said that he was not aware of any counties in the state that are operating schools jointly. He said a consortium of Eastern Shore schools jointly operates special education facilities.
Although Carroll officials have made no commitment to a joint high school, Mount Airy officials said that they were pleased with the general response.
"Nobody has made commitments to do anything," said Teresa Bamberger, Mount Airy town planner. "We wanted to make sure everyone was aware this was a serious interest on the part of the town. We're pleased to see that nobody came right out and said we couldn't do it."
"If this thing goes ahead it will be a long planning effort," she added.
A Mount Airy high school has been bandied about for years.
Mount Airy had a high school until it was merged with the old Sykesville High to form South Carroll High in 1967.
Earlier this year, Mount Airy officials and residents pressed Frederick and Carroll commissioners to endorse a joint school.
Frederick and Carroll commissioners and Mount Airy officials agreed that a task force should be appointed to study whether a regional high school is feasible. A task force has never been appointed, Ms. Bamberger said.
Mount Airy officials also pressed Frederick planners to include a Mount Airy high school in the county's update of the New Market Region Plan, but planners said that the feasibility of a bi-county school had not been evaluated.
Beth Pasierb, a Frederick County planner, said the New Market plan didn't show the need for an additional high school to serve Frederick County in the Mount Airy area during the next 20 years.
She said Frederick has a high school in nearby Linganore and has plans to build high schools in the Linganore-New Market area and in Urbana.
Frederick commissioners have said they would be willing to discuss future school requirements in Mount Airy and alternatives with the Carroll school board and commissioners.
In supporting a joint school, Carroll commissioners have maintained that officials should be interested in getting "the most bang for the buck," which could be realized through shared costs of construction and operation.