Woodlawn school needs aid, panel says


Featherbed Lane Elementary School in Woodlawn is deteriorating and crowded, but it is not slated to receive any renovations in the Baltimore County school system's preliminary capital budget request -- an omission that worries some school board members.

The school desperately needs renovation to relieve crowding and to ensure the safety of its 820 pupils, the members said.

"I'm concerned," Michael P. Kennedy, a board member, told school officials presenting the $105 million budget request Tuesday night. "I would like to know what the plan is to relieve the overcrowding and building conditions."

The capital budget calls for the construction of an addition to an elementary school in the northwestern part of the county, most likely New Town Elementary in Owings Mills.

It also would provide funding for a new Windsor Mills Middle School and an addition to the Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson.

Science laboratories would be renovated at several high schools, and some middle schools would receive funding for major maintenance projects.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Kennedy said some of Featherbed Lane's older pupils attend classes in temporary facilities that lack bathrooms. He said they must walk outside to go to the library, cafeteria and music class. The art teacher must carry her supplies and materials to the temporary buildings by cart, he said.

Board member Warren C. Hayman said at the meeting that funding is also needed to correct traffic patterns at the school, which threaten the children's safety. The school sits on a cul-de-sac, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to access the site.

"I don't know how we could not include that in our capital request because there are some serious issues there," he said. He later described the school as "certainly an eyesore and a disservice to this community."

Barbara S. Burnopp, executive director of fiscal services, emphasized that the budget proposal was preliminary, and that they could alter it.

Featherbed Lane Elementary consists of eight buildings, including a main building built in 1958 and seven modular units. The main building was renovated in 1980 and an addition was built in 1997.

Capital budgets involve funding for construction, renovation and major maintenance projects. The school board will hold a public work session Monday night on the proposal.

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