The Baltimore County Public Schools system is facing backlash from elected officials and community advocates in the Towson area for its recently revised multiyear improvement plan for all schools, which addresses school construction needs.
Most notably, the plan omitted long-anticipated school construction projects such as replacements for Towson and Dulaney high schools. The infrastructure of the two high schools is aging, as Towson High was built in 1949 and Dulaney High in 1964.
“I’m disappointed more than anything else,” said Baltimore County Council member David Marks. “Here’s the question: What will it require for Baltimore County to prioritize Dulaney and Towson high schools?”
Last year, the county and school system hired consulting firm CannonDesign to develop a master plan for school construction priorities by assessing capacity concerns, educational equity and the condition for each school in the county, said Dr. David Lever, a consultant on the project who previously served as executive director of the public school facilities program at the state level.
Responses to a countywide community survey were used to develop a long-term plan for prioritizing school construction projects, with final recommendations split into two phases which prioritized high schools in fall 2020, then elementary and middle schools afterward.
“These recommendations from CannonDesign provide a comprehensive, equitable and fully funded road map to accomplish just that,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said in a statement last month.
The project involved a number of components, with results coming together in the spring to develop a comprehensive recommendation that called for $2.5 billion in renovations for all county schools in the next 15 years; county Board of Education members heard a presentation of the study July 13.
State Sen. Chris West, who represents the Towson area and portions of northern Baltimore County, took issue with the report including schools that have been built new or substantially renovated during the Olszewski and former County Executive Kevin Kamenetz administrations.
“Proposing to spend money on such schools as Dundalk High School and Colgate Elementary School and Pikesville High School and Carver and Stoneleigh and Hereford High School, while scrimping to give short shrift to decrepit older schools, just doesn’t make any sense to me,” West said.
The study also concluded that none of the 24 county high schools required replacement, but instead should collectively undergo renovations and expansions that could cost up to $1.2 billion.