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Baltimore County seeks more school aid Extra $27 million sought for buildings by officials


Baltimore County school officials, expecting at least $10 million in state school construction funds next year, pleaded their case yesterday for another $27 million to build and renovate schools.

School officials had requested $36.9 million during an initial round of funding requests this fall, although so far they have only been assured of the $10 million.

Yesterday, Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione and three administrators requested more state aid -- particularly to fix up older schools -- from the state Interagency Committee in Baltimore, which recommends state funding levels for school construction projects.

But county and school officials also said the $10 million announced last month by state officials in initial funding recommendations was good news, since more funds are expected to be approved after the General Assembly's legislative session ends in April.

"To get a recommendation of almost a third of what we asked for at this point in the process is a great start," said Charles A. Herndon, a county schools spokesman. The county was granted $28 million in school construction money in April.

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat who backed Gov. Parris N. Glendening in the November election, told a teachers' group this month that Glendening promised the county about $30 million in school construction money when the process is completed next spring.

Baltimore County is not alone in fighting for state construction money to fix up aging school buildings.

In Anne Arundel, school officials say they must spend $4 million to remove light fixtures and asbestos at the 30-year-old Severna Park Middle School and six other schools because no one makes the outdated, tube-shaped bulbs used in the lights.

School workers cannot remove the light fixtures themselves because of asbestos in the ceilings.

"Every jurisdiction needs money to fix up all these schools, and this is the first step in the process of deciding who gets what money," said Yale Stenzler, executive director of the state school construction program.

Yesterday's hearing with Baltimore County school officials was roughly three months after a consultant determined that repairing the county's 101 elementary schools alone will cost almost $213 million over the next three years. A report on costs to repair the county's 60 middle and high schools is expected to be released early next year, Herndon said.

Stenzler told Marchione in a Nov. 17 letter that the Interagency Committee staff had recommended $10 million based on its initial review of the county school system's capital budget.

Topping the list of Baltimore County projects is $1.6 million for Randallstown Elementary School, a 90-year-old facility that is the county's oldest school.

Plans at Randallstown call for installation of new windows and doors; heating, electrical, lighting and plumbing systems; construction of a combined cafeteria and auditorium; and the installation of sprinklers and an elevator to bring the school up to codes for fire safety and disability access.

County and school officials already have begun renovating Randallstown. They closed a street Nov. 2 that runs between the school and the school's playground to everything but bus traffic during the day -- protecting children who must cross for recess.

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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