Kamenetz to Fund Elementary School Overcrowding Solution
$600 Million For School Construction Projects Since 2010
Towson, Maryland (October 30, 2013) – Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that he will provide funding to support a comprehensive solution to elementary school overcrowding in the County. Pursuant to a plan proposed by School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance, Kamenetz will earmark funds to construct 4,500 new or replacement school seats in the central, northwest and southwest corridors of the County that will resolve most elementary school overcrowding predictions for the next ten years. The proposed projects must first be approved by the Baltimore County School Board, and the funding request must be approved by the County Council and by voter referendum.
Proposal for 16 Schools Or Additions And 7,500 Seats Over the Last Three Years
With this announcement, Baltimore County will have proposed funding for 10 new schools and six renovated schools at a cost of $600 million since 2010, including the State's share of costs. During that same period of time, the number of schools in Baltimore County without air conditioning has been reduced from 52 percent to 22 percent.
"The most important investment that we can make in our communities is to ensure that our children attend state-of-the-art, 21st century schools," said Kamenetz. "I applaud Dr. Dance, his staff and the Board of Education for putting forth a comprehensive plan to address serious overcrowding issues. I am committed to providing funding solutions to construct each of these school projects, which will be included in my budget proposal to be presented to the County Council next spring. Providing record amounts for school construction is a vital tenet of this administration"
After months of community input, Superintendent Dance this week announced major school construction initiatives that will reduce elementary school overcrowding in Towson, Owings Mills, Catonsville, Arbutus and Lansdowne.
School Superintendent Dr. Dance said, "I look forward to working with the County Executive, County Council and the State Interagency Committee on Public School Construction to build consensus around these projects. In collaboration with community and government stakeholders, we are accelerating our progress in developing engaging and effective 21st century learning environments across the county." The Board of Education will consider Dance's requests at its November 5, 2013 meeting.
Comprehensive Central Area Plan
Since 2010, the County will have funded four new schools and five renovated additions to schools in the central area.
- The County is constructing a new $3 million Community/PAL Center on the grounds of Padonia International Elementary School that includes a gymnasium and theater for dual use by the school, freeing up additional space for classroom instruction.
- The County would fund renovation to reopen a 500-seat Loch Raven Elementary School, replacing the current Halstead Academy which will be converted into an elementary magnet school.
- The County would fund a 289-seat addition at Cromwell Valley Elementary School.
- The County is currently funding a 200-seat addition at Sparks Elementary School.
- The County is currently funding construction of the new 700-seat elementary school at Mays Chapel, which is to open in fall 2014.
- The County has just completed a 200-seat addition at Stoneleigh Elementary School that opened this fall.
- The County has just completed a 300-seat addition at Hampton Elementary School that opened this fall.
- The County has completed a new West Towson Elementary School that opened in 2010.
- The County has completed a new Carver High School for the Performing Arts that opened last fall.
"The role of the County Executive and County Council is to finance those improvements recommended by school system leaders," said 5th District Councilman David Marks. "I applaud County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's focus on education in the central corridor, which is critical to keeping families and building stable neighborhoods."
"The families in my area will be thrilled by this announcement," stated 3rd District Councilman Todd Huff. "We have great schools in northern Baltimore County, and I appreciate the County Executive and Dr. Dance's support of our children."
"I appreciate the comprehensive methodology being undertaken by Mr. Kamenetz and Dr. Dance to ensure that all County schools get attention, including proposed air conditioning for several schools in my district," said 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins.
"As a former PTA president, I have always believed that all of our elected officials have to be advocates for projects all across the County," said 8th District Senator Kathy Klausmeier, Chair of the County's Senate Delegation. "I will work closely with the leadership in Annapolis to secure matching State funding for these projects and to ensure open dialogue with the County, State delegation, school administrators, parents, teachers and community continues throughout the process.
Comprehensive Southwest Area Plan
- The County will fund two new schools and two renovated additions to schools in the southwest area.
- The County would fund construction of a new 700-seat elementary school on the grounds of Westowne Elementary School; the old school would be demolished to provide substitute field space.
- The County would fund renovation and expansion of the former Catonsville Middle School on Bloomsbury Avenue to create a 700-seat elementary school.
- The County would fund construction for a new 700-seat elementary school on the grounds of Relay Elementary School; the old school would be demolished to provide substitute field space.
- The County would fund construction of a 200-seat addition to Westchester Elementary School.
"This is a significant win for Southwest Baltimore County; definitely the biggest thing to happen since I've been elected," said 1st District Councilman and Council Chair Tom Quirk. "This will fundamentally solve the overcrowding issue in Relay and Catonsville. I'm very grateful for the County Executive and Superintendent's support and help with this very worthy and needed effort. It feels like Christmas has come early for Southwest Baltimore County."
"This is terrific news for the children in my district," said Senator Ed Kasemeyer, Chairman of the State Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee. "I am very proud of the manner in which the State and County are working together to make such a significant investment in our schools."
The County will construct a new school to resolve overcrowding at New Town and Woodholme Elementary Schools.
- The County is currently funding construction of a 700-seat elementary school on the Ballard property at the corner of Owings Mills Boulevard and Lyons Mills Road in Owings Mills.
"I have been working for almost four years to secure the property that will be used for this school," said 4th District Councilman Ken Oliver. "To know that we are actually going to move forward with this project is very exciting. I can assure the County Executive that I will be a proud 'yes' vote for the education budget later this spring."
"I am very pleased that we are adding additional seats in the Owings Mills area," said 10th District Delegate and Speaker Pro-Tem of the House of Delegates, Adrienne Jones. "Superintendent Dance and County Executive Kamenetz should be commended for taking action to relieve overcrowding in Owings Mills. As Chair of the House Capital Budget Subcommittee, I look forward to working this upcoming session to secure State funding to make relieving overcrowding in Baltimore County school system a reality."
Southeast Area Schools Also Benefit From New Investment
During the past year, the southeast area has benefited from the opening this fall of the newly constructed $101 million Dundalk High and Sollers Point Technical High Schools.
"Seeing the impact that these new high schools are having on my district, I am delighted that County Executive Kamenetz and Dr. Dance are moving to address serious issues in other areas of the County as well," said 6th District Delegate and Chair of the County's House Delegation John Olszewski Jr. "When we work together as a team, the entire County benefits."
"I fully support the record investment in school construction that the County has undertaken," said Councilman John Olszewski Sr. "This is money well spent."
Consistent Funding For A Decade
"We are appreciative of the State's partnership with the County in helping us achieve our school construction goals," concluded Kamenetz. "During the past decade, 74 percent of that funding has come from Baltimore County with the State contributing 26 percent of the total. I thank Governor O'Malley, Senate President Miller, Speaker Busch, the Committee leadership team and our County delegation in Annapolis for their ongoing support of education in Baltimore County."