Board OKs funds for school repairs; Balto. Co. panel allots at least $137 million


The 12-member Baltimore County Board of Education unanimously approved spending at least $137 million during the next school year for new roofs, wiring, tiles and other repairs at aging schools last night.

The county now needs a commitment from the State Department of Education for the state's share of the 2000-2001 proposed capital budget, said Valerie A. Roddy, senior fiscal analyst for the school system.

The school system has proposed an eight-year, $530 million school construction and repair program, which officials began last year. A majority of the county's 161 schools were built before 1970 and are in need of new electrical wiring, bathrooms and windows.

In addition to the state budget request, school board members are expected to approve a capital budget request for county funds in late December, Roddy said. County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the county planning commission and the County Council must review the fiscal document, as well.

School officials have been focusing on repairs to elementary schools recently. The proposed 2000-2001 capital budget includes about $115 million in state and county money to pay for major renovation projects at several elementary schools, including Charlesmont, Deep Creek, Halstead Academy, Milbrook, Powhatan, Seneca and Winand.

Four schools for students with physical handicaps and learning disabilities would also be repaired.

At Maiden Choice School, where teachers and nurses work year-round with severely disabled students ages 3 to 21, renovation funds worth $2.8 million could pay for improvements, such as central air conditioning, said Principal Ed Bennett.

"We have some room air conditioners, which help us with our summer programs to make sure that our students have a healthy environment," he said. "But certainly to provide a system that is more centralized will be more effective."

As part of the state budget request, school officials will ask for $350,000 to help pay for a new cafeteria at Stoneleigh Elementary School.

The addition is expected to be finished in time for the school year beginning September 2002 and cost about $2 million.

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