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Hearing tonight will address schools' plan for construction Public comments invited on $46.5 million proposal


The public will get its first chance tonight to comment on the school superintendent's proposed $46.5 million construction plan for next fiscal year.

The hearing is part of the school board's meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the school system's headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.

County officials already have said Superintendent Carol S. Parham's spending plan is too ambitious and will require cutting.

"This year we gave them $24.5 million for school construction. And in our spending program for fiscal 1997, we anticipate giving them about $26 million, with most of that money zeroed in for Broadneck and the Meade Area Middle School," said John R. Hammond, the county's financial officer.

But Dr. Parham said she tried to "look at the best way to pay for these projects, and to minimize the impact on county revenues."

In her spending plan, Dr. Parham proposes paying for projects through a $16.9 million bond issue, about $1.4 million in county money, $9.7 million in impact fees, $9.4 million in grants and $9.1 million in developer contributions.

Some parents are concerned about the plan's priorities.

The two projects at the top of the list -- and the most expensive -- are renovations for Broadneck High School, with an estimated cost of $12.7 million, and construction of Meade Area Middle School, expected to cost about $13.6 million.

Dr. Parham's proposal also includes money to replace Ridgeway, Jacobsville and Brooklyn Park elementary schools and to renovate Fort Smallwood and Adams Park elementaries.

Although Ridgeway is on the list of new schools, parents, administrators and students say they will testify tonight because they're not taking any chances.

That's because they've watched other projects postponed for lack of money. Architectural work on Marley Middle School -- which school board member Thomas Twombly calls "the Rodney Dangerfield of middle schools" because it is in such disrepair -- was to begin this year, but now is not scheduled until 2000.

Belvedere Elementary School, once scheduled for architectural design this year, will not be dealt with until after 2002, according to school system documents.

The school board is scheduled to vote Oct. 11 on Dr. Parham's proposal. That's so it can submit the construction priority list to the state agency that oversees school construction, in a bid to get state money for some of the projects. The state agency, the Interagency Committee, is to review the school board's request Oct. 30.

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