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Kamenetz promises planning money for a new Dulaney High School

In a huge win for parents who have long advocated for a new building for Dulaney High School, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz today said that he will include planning money in his upcoming budget for just that purpose.

In a letter to Baltimore County Public Schools’ interim superintendent, Verletta White, Kamenetz said the numbers justify building a new Dulaney High that can accommodate 2,300 students. It’s current capacity is 1,984.

“I am so excited for our community and grateful for the continued investment in aging infrastructure and for a solution to overcrowding at the high school level,” said Yara Cheikh, a Dulaney parent and activist. “It’s been a long journey and I’m glad we’ve all arrived at the same destination.”

The tentative plan is for the new school to be built adjacent to the old school so that students could remain on site during construction. The old school would then be torn down.

Planning money has also been promised for a new Towson High School building; in September, Kamenetz indicated that county officials would not decide on the site of a second school in the area until a capacity study had been completed. That $200,000 study was approved by the Board of Education in January and is now underway.

“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,” Kamenetz said in September.

But now “this information and these additional seats will now become part of that comprehensive [capacity] analysis,” said Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for the county.

(The process of rebuilding Towson High has been met with questions from some parents about how a substantially larger school could fit on the site’s footprint, which is bisected by a stream. Towson has the smallest plot of land of any high school in the county.)

Last year, BCPS put forward plans to renovate Dulaney High, but advocates said renovations would not be enough to fix the problems at the school, nor would a renovation make economic sense. In addition, they argued, Dulaney is projected to be significantly overcapacity in the coming years, so more physical classroom space will be needed. Ultimately the Board of Eduction decided against funding a renovation. But until today, it was not clear if a replacement school would be funded.

The group Friends of Dulaney High posted the following message on its Facebook page today:

Today County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announces the FY2019 Baltimore County Budget will include planning and design money for a replacement school for DULANEY HIGH SCHOOL.

In a meeting today at noon with Dulaney High School PTA President Sue Battle McDonald, former PTA President Hope Mims, Dulaney High School Sports Booster Treasurer and Executive Committee Member Melissa Whatley, Friends of Dulaney Co-founder Jennifer Tarr, Co-founder of Towson Familes United Cathi Forbes and Friends of Dulaney High School Co-founder Yara Cheikh the Couny Executive explained that a replacement school made economic sense in light of the space deficiencies and significant projected overcrowding of the school.

FOD is profoundly grateful to the County Executive and his staff for maintaining open communication throughout this journey and for continuing to fund solutions to aging school infrastructure and school overcrowding across the County. We appreciate the work of BCPS in finding a smart fiscal and comprehensive solution for the needs of Dulaney High School.

It is through the extraordinary singular focus, decorum and adherence to facts of this entire community that we have arrived at this destination on our journey! We look forward to working with BCPS, the Board of Education and our elected officials to plan, design and build our new school in the coming year!

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