|Release Date: 10/30/2013|
Towson, MD. – After six months of community engagement, Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance will recommend to the Board of Education, at its November 5, 2013, meeting, several proposals to relieve capacity issues in the southwest and central areas of Baltimore County.
In the southwest area, the school system proposes 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.
In the central area, the school system proposes to reopen a 500-seat Loch Raven Elementary School and relocate the students and staff of Halstead Academy there; build an addition to Cromwell Valley Elementary School to add 289 seats; and renovate the current Halstead Academy building to accommodate a new countywide school.
“By working so closely with our community and government stakeholders, we have developed proposed solutions that do much more than create more room for our students," said Superintendent Dance. “By taking a thoughtful approach and aligning these projects with our soon-to-be-released 10-year facilities plan, we are designing 21st century learning environments that will facilitate student engagement and our instructional digital conversion; enhance safety; maximize flexibility; and abide by sustainable design standards."
Baltimore County Public Schools and architectural firm GWWO presented proposed capacity solutions for the southwest and central areas to the community at meetings held, respectively, on October 28 at Catonsville High School and October 29 at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology. These presentations culminated a collaborative process with the southwest and central communities that began last spring.
A number of factors were used to evaluate proposed solutions – most significant among them were the net seat gain, number of high priority schools in a 2-miles radius, site ownership/control, historic status of property, present use of existing site, and acreage available.
The site for a new elementary school for the northwest area was approved by the Board of Education of Baltimore County on September 24, 2013. BCPS anticipates that a new 700-seat school will be built on Lyons Mill Road, west of Owings Mills Boulevard, by the start of the 2015-2016 school year. The new school is intended to relieve overcrowding at New Town and Woodholme elementary schools.
These proposals are in the FY 15 Capital Improvement Plan, which is planned to go to the Board for approval at its November 5 meeting. All of the projects for the southwest and central areas are tentatively scheduled to be complete by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
Following Board of Education Policy 1280, BCPS will work with the communities to establish boundaries for new and expanded schools with a tentative timeline to start the process in October 2014. In the interim, BCPS will implement additional short-term capacity relief strategies as needed.
For additional information about plans for southwest, northwest and central areas, please visit the “What’s Happening" section of the home page at www.bcps.org.