School construction budget disclosed; Parham seeks $55 million for repairs, additions


School Superintendent Carol S. Parham unveiled a $55 million construction and repair budget yesterday that included money for two high school additions needed to carry out her redistricting and crowding-reduction plan over the next two decades.

The budget contains $12 million more than last year's capital budget. It must be approved by the school board and County Council.

Parham's fiscal 2001 capital budget buttresses her $27 million plan for eventually easing all building crunches. The school board is considering that proposal, with several other ideas from board members. Parham's plan to ease crowding includes building a 400-seat addition at North County High School in Linthicum and one at Southern High School in Edgewater.

"I want everyone to see the direction we taking," Parham said yesterday during the board's first meeting of the school year. "The maintenance backlog is also a priority."

In her budget, Parham requested $8 million to begin the North County addition and $9.9 million for the first phase of the Southern High School project.

She has also earmarked $250,000 to begin work on Chesapeake Middle School in Pasadena, which will be split into two middle schools under her crowding-reduction plan.

Parham's plan, presented to the board in June, was in response to a consultant's report that warned that shifting school enrollments would severely press classrooms in some schools during the next 20 years. About 600 middle and high school students would be redistricted and although Parham had proposed closing Ferndale and Belle Grove elementary schools, the board canceled that idea after parents protested.

Parham did not propose a 13th high school -- a popular idea among parents in the western part of the county who do not want their children shifted out of the area. She moved that project further down the list of construction projects, scheduling it for review in 2005.

The school board can amend the capital budget request before approving it.

The board also reviewed a set of suggestions from staff for solving the crowding and redistricting dilemma. Those suggestions included shifting about 775 students from various schools to relieve crowding.

Parham will make revised, final redistricting recommendations to the board next month. The board will hold public hearings before voting whether to approve it.

Other projects in Parham's capital budget proposal include: $3.2 million to replace Davidsonville Elementary.

$5.6 million for a new Mayo Elementary School.

$7.1 million for construction of Glendale Elementary School.

Construction on these projects is expected to begin in spring 2000.

State contributions to Parham's budget total $13.2 million for construction. That is more than double what the county has received in past years. County Executive Janet S. Owens and state legislators lobbied together for their share of $1 billion in state school construction funds. County representatives in the state legislature have pledged to seek as much as $20 million a year over the next three years for school construction.

Owens has also chipped in an additional $40 million of county money to help pay for school repairs. This year, a 39-member citizens' Committee on the Renovation and Maintenance of Public Schools issued a report showing that about $417 million is needed to fix and modernize schools across the county.

Pub Date: 9/02/99

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