In a win for the advocates of a new building for Towson High School, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’ office said today that he will include planning funds for two new high schools in his upcoming budget request. The schools would serve Towson and the central-northeast area, which encompasses Dulaney High.
“After numerous meetings with education experts and community leaders, it is clear that Baltimore County needs to alleviate overcrowding in the Towson area, as well as the central-northeast corridor,” said Kamenetz. “We need to resolve overcrowding at Towson High, although there are complications due to the school’s designation as a County historic structure.”
Advocates for Towson and Dulaney high schools have been urging state and county officials to commit to funding new buildings for students and have argued that renovations would not resolve the schools’ problems — including overcrowding — and would end up costing more in the long run.
“Parents and community leaders from central Baltimore County have made their voices heard loud and clear about the need for new schools, which is why the Board of Education took the unusual step last week of adding a line-item for planning money to the upcoming budget request,” Councilman David Marks said in a statement.
“A huge thank you to Towson parents like Gretchen Maneval and Steve Prumo who have been working with me and with School Board member Julie Henn on this issue, and to my colleagues in the county and state governments for their support as well,” said Marks, who represents much of the Towson area.
“I am ecstatic! Three of my four kids might see a new Towson High School,” said Steve Prumo, one of the leaders of Families for a New Towson High School. “The community just had its value increased. Our community has gotten stronger in this effort. Our kids know, or will know, we have their backs.”
School administrators at Towson must run the heat and air conditioning at the same time to prevent mold. After a heavy rain, the main level floods — with waters rising above the electrical panels. The water coming out of the taps is brown.
Additionally, Towson is already overcrowded, and the numbers are predicted to get significantly worse in the coming years.
Del. Steve Lafferty said he supports a new building for Towson High, but he’s also hearing from many parents who are concerned about the impact the new construction will affect their current Towson High students.
Students at Stoneleigh Elementary were disrupted several years ago when that school was renovated (they were bussed to the old Carver High building), and then the attended Dumbarton Middle during a renovation. Now their high school years might also be disrupted.
For those students and all the others at Towson, there is not yet a plan for what to do with students during construction.
“There are so many unanswered questions and parents are eager to find out ‘What will happen to my child?'”
It is not yet clear if Dulaney High will get a new building. Other high schools with low building scores — Woodlawn, Patapsco and Landsdowne — have already been slated for renovation or replacement.
The county executive’s office said that “the location of a second new school to alleviate overcrowding in the central-northeast corridor will be influenced by the pending high school enrollment reassessment currently being conducted by the school system. Nevertheless, it is clear that we need to fund two new schools to resolve overcrowding.”
Last week the Baltimore County School Board made a last-minute amendment to its capital budget in order to request that new schools for Towson and Dulaney be priorities.
But “there is insufficient time for the school system to provide necessary data to state officials to be considered by the state during its fall review,” said the statement from Kamenetz, who yesterday formally announced his run for governor.
“However, the commitment by County Executive Kamenetz for county planning money will ensure that planning for two new high schools can continue at the county level.”
Yara Cheikh, a Dulaney advocate, said “the Dulaney High School community is hopeful that the planning and design money will go to replace Dulaney High because of our future overcrowding and because we have aging infrastructure, and the Board of Education prioritized if for a replacement school.”