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District plan outlines top needs for schools

The Baltimore Sun

New schools in North and South Carroll, full-day kindergarten additions and the South Carroll fine arts addition are among the top needs identified for county school facilities over the next decade under a district plan.

The new schools plotted for the 2007-2016 period include continued construction of Ebb Valley Elementary in the Manchester area, the northeast-area high school and a new elementary facility in South Carroll, for which planning would start in the 2009 fiscal year.

Additions for full-day kindergarten at William Winchester, Winfield, Robert Moton, Sandymount, Elmer Wolfe, Cranberry Station, Taneytown and Friendship Valley elementary schools, as well as an addition at the Gateway School, fall under new projects.

The educational facilities master plan outlines the district's projected facility needs, and takes shape using such parameters as enrollment projections, an existing building inventory and questions of capacity, said Bill Caine, the school system's facilities planner.

Caine presented the plan to the Board of Education during its Wednesday meeting.

The South Carroll elementary school, which could qualify for state funding, has risen in priority because of predicted increases in enrollment among the five elementaries in the southeast region, according to the presentation. The area stands at about 40 students above capacity, Caine said in an interview.

"By 2011, the projections show that all five of them will be 497 [students] over capacity," Caine said. Piney Ridge Elementary alone is expected to rise to 134.7 percent capacity in the next 10 years, according to the school system's enrollment projections.

But a new middle school for South Carroll was moved back two years because student numbers are expected to decline until 2012, Caine said.

Science room renovations at four high schools, along with enclosures for open-space classrooms at Carrolltowne, Eldersburg and Westminster elementaries, and Northwest Middle, were also listed as key projects for "instructional program improvements."

Board Vice President Cynthia Foley expressed disappointment at seeing work on the Carroll County Career and Technology Center pushed back.

In the current calendar, planning for modernization and an addition to the center was scheduled to begin in the 2009 fiscal year.

But the newly proposed list calls for a "long range career and technology plan" starting in 2010.

The change is in part attributed to a study last year, which concluded that the building's age and design, coupled with rising costs of modernizing in phases, seemed to favor constructing a new center.

If that were pursued, the recommended 2007-2016 timeline indicates that project would be completed in August 2012.

"The career and technology center is extremely important in this county," Foley said, adding that many students do not leave Carroll to go to a four-year college or university. "The services that the career and tech center offer are what ... the majority of our students need to succeed, to keep them here in Carroll County."

Ted Zaleski, county director of management and budget, said later during the meeting that he doubted that would be possible.

"I can't see how a career and technology project can end up even as soon as it's in the facilities master plan, as far as funding goes," Zaleski said, adding that requests for state funding for the full-day kindergarten additions will likely come at the expense of other projects.

Caine said the proposed plan was open to suggestions and comments from board members and the community.

A public meeting on the plan is scheduled at Cranberry Station Elementary on May 15 at 7 p.m. It will come before the Board of Education for approval during the regular June 13 meeting, Caine said, and must be submitted to the state by July 1.


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