Parents want new school in Eldersburg Most would oppose additions built at existing facilities; Master plan proposed; Five-year schedule of construction to be set next month


The parents who successfully pressed the county school board for a new middle school for crowded South Carroll are back.

This time, it's to ensure enough room for their children when they get to high school. So far, the area does not have the room, but the way to ensure that space becomes available will be decided by the school board in the next six weeks.

The board will set its five-year construction plan at 7 p.m. May 27.

About a dozen parents turned out for last night's school board meeting to urge the board to support a new high school in Eldersburg, not just add classrooms to the two existing schools.

"All you have to do is look at Liberty [High School] to see it can't handle an addition," said Mark Krebs, an Eldersburg father of three. "We need a new high school in South Carroll."

At the meeting, the school board staff unveiled a proposed Facilities Master Plan, the five-year schedule of construction and renovation that is revised each spring.

The meeting was at Oklahoma Road Middle School, which opened in January after South Carroll parents mobilized to get it built.

Many of those parents stood in the new school's gym last night to put the same full-court press on the board to build a high school.

"The only solution is a new high school in this five-year plan," said Laura Rhodes, a Piney Ridge Elementary School parent and PTA president. "I urge you to take a strong stand for two Carroll County high schools and to be creative."

Kathleen Horneman, an Eldersburg mother who was among the most active in pushing for Oklahoma Road, warned that building additions would make it difficult to justify the need for a new high school.

Liberty Principal Robert Bastress said that even if a high school was built, Liberty would need to be expanded. But he agreed that an addition could undermine plans for a new school.

"If we don't build an addition to Liberty, we are looking at 1,600 students before a new high school is built," Bastress said. "We'd reach our elastic limit.

"I was not originally in favor of the expansion because I believe 1,200 is a good number for a high school," he said. "I'm not sure what the best plan is, but working through the process will bring a solution."

Several parents, board members and staff acknowledged that Liberty will be difficult to expand because the cafeteria, hallways, gym and media center are built for 1,200 students. The school has more than 1,400 students, a number that is scheduled to grow by 10 percent a year for the next 10 years.

A new high school for the Westminster area is in the master plan. Most parents said both schools should be built, but if it is a choice between them, the need in South Carroll is more acute.

The other high school, South Carroll, is not as crowded as Liberty. For each of those schools, the staff is proposing a $4 million addition. The additions would increase the capacity for each school to 1,600 students.

The county has land for a new high school in Eldersburg, adjacent to the elementary school being built on Linton Road.

Horneman has had three children go through Liberty and has two children at Oklahoma Road. But she is planning to send them to private school rather than a crowded Liberty.

"I really feel bad about it," Horneman said. "We have the best teachers. I hate to see us eroded by overcrowding."

Pub Date: 4/10/97

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