Schaefer recommends more money for school


Howard County school officials got welcome news last week when they learned that Gov. William Donald Schaefer has recommended an additional $1 million from the state to build a new high school in Long Reach.

School officials asked for $8.7 million last school year to build the high school near Dobbin Road and Snowden River Parkway, but the three-member Board of Public Works approved only $5 million in partial funding in April.

On Friday, the governor recommended that Howard County get the additional $1 million, part of it from a $12.4 million pot of leftover school construction money and part from a state contingency fund.

The Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on the recommendation Wednesday.

Word that the county may get extra school construction money comes just weeks after school officials learned that the state would not pay for $2 million in equipment at River Hill High School.

Associate Superintendent Sydney Cousin, in charge of finance and operations, said the possibility of extra money for the eastern high school was unexpected.

"We're always glad we get money, as long as they don't take it back from us," he said. "We certainly welcome the money from the state."

Other school officials also said the governor's recommendation was a surprise.

"That's welcome news, especially in light of the recent shortfall," said Dana Hanna, school board chairman.

"That will certainly go to assuaging hurt feelings. It will assist in the tight budgets we're running with. I would hope we would get more funding in the new year that just wouldn't come from leftovers."

County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who worked with County Councilman C. Vernon Gray to lobby for the extra money for the eastern high school, is optimistic the state will give back the $2 million it took away from the River Hill project.

"I'm confident in the interim, we will get the $2 million," he said.

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