Board Approval for Proposed Projects – 11/5/2013
At its November 5 meeting, the Board of Education of Baltimore County approved the superintendent's revised FY 2015 state capital budget recommendations. The revisions reflect feedback received from recently held community forums and discussions with county and state leadership.
The state-requested projects require that county matching funds be verified before final state approval.
The approved budget recommendation includes a request to build new buildings for three existing schools. The new 700-seat buildings for Westowne, Catonsville, and Relay elementary schools will increase the capacity of those schools by 197, 295, and 285 seats respectively. While plans describe building Westowne and Relay at their current locations, the new building for Catonsville Elementary is planned for the site of the Bloomsbury Community Center. A fourth proposed project for the southwest area is an addition to Westchester Elementary for a net gain of 201 seats.
On May 8 and 30, 2013, more than 200 Baltimore County Public Schools stakeholders from the southwest area of the county gathered to discuss capacity expansion and modernization of schools in their communities.
During the meeting on May 8, community members heard about the steps the school system will take to address immediate overcrowding pressures as well as work aggressively on outlining a long term approach to school facility improvement. At the meeting, community members had an opportunity to discuss these issues and provide their ideas, questions, and concerns to BCPS administrators.
Some thoughts that were shared included a request that the school system examine the viability of seven sites for possible use as school campuses – properties near the Catonsville Park & Ride, a senior center, Spring Grove, the Children's Home, Dimitri's, the Banneker Recreation Area, and the Bloomsbury site.
Community attendees also had questions regarding the timing of the long-range planning process and the timing for relief for immediate issues such as overcrowding and air conditioning. Still others expressed the need to keep neighborhoods together, to make walkability a priority, and to be sure that the long-range planning process includes managing projected overcrowding at middle schools.
During the meeting on May 30, BCPS staff reviewed the current ownership, location and size of the seven properties under consideration as new school sites, while a representative from GWWO Inc./Architects explained further the 10-year facility planning process and how the school system and the community can work together to both meet immediate needs and plan for the future. The work will involve an extensive on-site inspection of all school facilities over the summer and an evaluation of needs and priorities in order to provide adequately-sized and modernized school buildings in all communities throughout the county.
In November, BCPS staff and the community will reconvene to provide an update on the 10-year planning process including a recommendation for a solution or solutions to resolve the need for 500 additional seats in southwest.
The BCPS Physical Facilities and Strategic Planning offices will continue to collaborate with assistant superintendents, the Southwest Area Education Advisory County and local PTAs to develop short-term relief strategies for implementation for the 2014-2015 school year.
BCPS is committed to providing students with access to effective educational materials in a 21st-century learning environment and will continue to work with its stakeholders and members of the community to achieve this goal for each of its students.