Finally, after years of pleading, the people in Essex will be getting a new elementary school to replace the decrepit 68-year-old building on Mace Avenue.
The Interagency Committee for State Public School Construction (IAC) notified Baltimore County school officials Wednesday that it had approved $2,116,000 toward construction of the new Essex elementary.
The county must provide an additional $4 million for planning, building and equipping the school, which will be built next to the existing school. Construction could begin this summer and students could move in sometime in 1995. The school will hold about 500 students.
The committee also approved a $195,000 expenditure, which the county must match, to renovate science laboratories and convert classrooms into science laboratories at Parkville High School. A science, mathematics and computer magnet program will open there in September. The laboratories have not been upgraded since the school opened in 1958, said James Kraft, the school system's planning manager.
These two projects were announced one day after Superintendent Stuart Berger appealed to the IAC an earlier state ruling that deferred all but one construction and two planning projects, totaling $721,000. The new approvals give the county more than $3 million of the $11 million in construction funds it sought from the state.
"We're obviously elated that the IAC tripled our original allocation," said Mr. Kraft. "But we're not finished yet."
Mr. Kraft said the schools also would appeal to the state Board of Public Works on Jan. 19 for more of the "much-needed projects."
In his appeal, Dr. Berger asked for planning and construction money to reopen Cromwell Valley Elementary School in September, build additions to Western School of Technology and Environmental Sciences and to six overcrowded elementary schools and to replace roofs and heating and cooling equipment in some of the county's aging buildings.
The county schools have 3,500 more students this year than last, and two-thirds of the elementary schools are over capacity. Enrollment growth is expected to continue.
Despite the county's many needs, Essex was clearly at the top of this year's capital budget. Parents and administrators at the school, which was built in 1925, have repeatedly asked for help.
A study committee recommended replacing the worn-out school, where floors, walls and ceilings are crumbling. The paint is peeling, an unbearable stench of urine floats from the vintage bathrooms, and uncontrollable boilers make some parts of the building hot and others cold.