Ellicott City site proposed for elementary school School board to weigh north county plan


Howard County's next northern elementary school would be in Ellicott City under a proposal that will go before the school board at today's regular meeting.

The elementary school, scheduled to open in September 1996, would be built on 38 acres of land off Ilchester Road northeast of Talbots Landing, on the same 160-acre parcel as the Trinity School, a parochial school.

School planners say they had few sites to choose from in an area of rapid home construction.

"Most of the land is under development or committed to development," said Bill Grau, a site planner. "This was the best site to pick."

Site feasibility studies, including soil tests and boundary surveys, are under way.

The school is intended to alleviate crowding at Rockburn, Worthington, Waterloo, Elkridge and Deep Run elementary schools in the developing Montgomery Road corridor.

"It's in the right geographical location for the next elementary school," Mr. Grau said. "That was certainly the No. 1 priority."

A public hearing on the site has been scheduled for Dec. 9, with a final board vote expected Jan. 13.

School site planners also are seeking the board's approval to acquire a better location for a second new northern elementary school, scheduled to open in 1997 to relieve crowding at St. John's Lane elementary.

They want the school system to use 10 acres of land owned by the Stirn family near Route 99 and Old Frederick Road in Ellicott City instead of an adjacent 10 acres owned by the Gudelsky family.

Planners say the Stirn property, on a winding part of Old Frederick Road, would be inconvenient for school buses.

"Our biggest concern was accessing the [Stirn] site," Mr. Grau said. "This site will work a lot better."

He said that it will take several weeks for county and school attorneys to write an agreement for the transfer, which includes a stipulation that the land's owners will donate an additional 5 acres to the school system.

Also on the agenda:

* Reports on class sizes, which have grown in recent years because of an increase in student enrollment and a cut in teacher positions provided to allow for unexpected growth.

The report shows that 14 kindergarten classes have from 25 to 29 students, compared with the county's goal of 22 students.

Many of the county's 14 middle schools have maintained optimal class sizes of 24 students or fewer.

But in six of the county's eight high schools the average class size increased last year by an average of one student per class to almost 25 students compared to the goal of 23.5 students per class.

* A recommendation to expand the Type III gifted and talented program to Wilde Lake High School in 1995.

Type III programs allow students to do in-depth research in areas they choose. They were begun at Mount Hebron and Hammond high schools five years ago. School officials recommend expanding the Type III program to all schools by 1998.

The board meeting will begin at 4 p.m. in the Board Room at the Department of Education, at 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City.

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