ANNAPOLIS – Allegany County, because it starts with an “A”, was the first school board to schmooze the governor, comptroller and treasurer on Wednesday.
Carroll County fit squarely in the middle of the four other “C” counties. And Washington County was second to last.
But no matter where they were in the alphabetical list, 19 schools systems made similar pleas in an annual Statehouse rite before the Board of Public Works: They all wanted — begged for – – more money for school construction.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening has proposed $138.4 million for school construction in his 1998 budget. Of this, the Interagency Action Committee on School Construction, which coordinates planning with school districts, has already recommended projects totaling $72.5 million. The remaining $65.9 million was at stake Wednesday.
Among Western Maryland counties, only Garrett sat out the meeting. “Garrett didn’t have anything to appeal,” said Superintendent Jerome Ryscavage. “We are pleased with IAC’s recommendations.”
C. Scott Stone, president of Carroll County’s Board of Education, had several things in mind for the extra money:
* Modernization and expansion of Francis Scott Key High in Westminster.
* A new Cranberry Station Elementary School, also in Westminster.
* Reimbursement of local funds spent to remodel Sandymount Elementary School in the Westminster area.
* Planning costs for two new schools, Westminster Area High School and Hampstead Area Middle School.
* A new roof for North Carroll High School in Hampstead.
Stone justified the projects with statistics: The county’s school-age population is growing at a rate of 700-900 students annually.
Many officials focussed on renovations in their remarks, and it was no accident. Glendening’s “Smart Growth” initiative, meant to curb suburban sprawl, will give priority to modernizing older schools instead of building new ones, Stone said.
Allegany County asked for help in renovating Mount Savage School, located 10 miles northwest of Cumberland and home to 600 kindergarten through 12th graders. The school has not had major renovations since it was built in 1952.
The county sought $10 million to fix the heating and air conditioning, renovate doors and windows, add new electrical and mechanical systems and make the school accessible to people with handicaps.
“We need the renovations badly,” said Greg Smith, Mount Savage’s principal.
Wayne Gersen, Washington County school superintendent, asked the governor, Treasurer Richard N. Dixon and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein to approve funds to renovate South Hagerstown High.
Hagerstown Mayor Steven Sager was on hand to lend support.
“The renovations of South Hagerstown High School is the number one priority of the local funding agencies — Washington County Board of Education and the Washington County Commissioners. The city of Hagerstown supports this position,” Sager said. He added that South Hagerstown is the oldest high school in service in the county, by about 15 years.
Sager said its problems include cold in the winter, hot in the summer, inadequate and dingy lighting, inadequate electrical services and inadequate phone services. Noted Gersen: “This renovation matches the kind of projects recommended for priority consideration by the governor.” -30-