Monday, October 1, 2012

Elkridge: You're About to get Schooled

It seems like every time I open a local newspaper The Howard County Times, Patch, or The Baltimore Sun I hear residents of Elkridge complaining that they're the County's unwanted step child because of their lack of County and State Funding for School Construction, a new Fire Station, Traffic Lights, an adequate Library and disappearing open space in their increasingly urbanizing Town. It's gotten so bad in the comments field on Patch that perspective Elkridge Residents are saying that they won't move because of how unwelcome current Residents are making them feel. Well Elkridge if you think you've been ignored by the County, think again I'm going to provide a 25 year history of School Construction in Elkridge some of which projects in other parts of the County were deferred in order to give Elkridge its fair shake. Sit tight Elkridge you're about to get Schooled.
1987 Waterloo Elementary undergoes a complete Modernization that includes additional Kindergarten Classrooms, Music & Art Rooms, G&T, Room, Gymnasium, PreK, RECC, and Students with Emotional Disturbances. In the back of the School a new Classroom Addition has been added. This project was so big that Waterloo Elementary Students had to attend the recently closed Waterloo Middle during construction.
1989 Phelps Luck receives an addition, although in Columbia this addition allows for redistricting that provided relief for crowded Schools in Elkridge as well.
1990 On the site of Waterloo Middle Deep Run Elementary Opens. If one looks through School Board meetings in the 1980s it says that the next new School on the County wouldn't be built until some time around 1992.
1991 Mayfield Woods Middle opens. It was said that a replacement Middle School for Waterloo wouldn't open until 1995 but lucky the County  was able to get that project moved up four years for the benefit of Elkridge. As fate would have it Elkridge did get another Middle School in 1995 as well.
1992 Elkridge Elementary opens replacing the older aging School. This new School is located in an area of Elkirdge that can provide for future growth with a larger footprint that features more classrooms and more acreage. This year not only did Elkridge receive another new School but an old School was retired.

1993 Rockburn Elementary opens. Just as the dust settled from the new Elkridge Elementary just a couple of miles west Rockburn opens. Some School systems might not have built two new Elementary Schools in the same area just one year apart from one another. Howard County must have a lot invested in Elkridge.
1995 Elkridge Landing Middle Opens. On the same site as the new Elkridge Elementary the County had purchased enough land for both an Elementary and a Middle School. This proved to be a great decision because the need for a new Middle School was there to serve the growth around the two new Elementary Schools that had opened in the past three years.

1996 Long Reach High Opens. Although located in Columbia, its district was and still is consisted of half of Elkridge which provided relief for Howard High which prior to 1996 was the sole High School that served Elkirdge.
Also in 1996 Ilchester Elementary opens. Though technically in Ellicott City, Ilchester provided relief to both Elkridge and Rockburn Elementarys.
1998 Waterloo and Deep Run both receive classroom additions. Elkridge ES receives a small renovation to create Kindergarten classrooms out of classrooms originally for grades 1-5.

1999 Bonnie Branch Middle is built. It won't open for another two years because it will function as a holding School for Ellicott Mills whose building was being torn down and rebuilt during that time.
It should be noted that during the 1990s that a lot of Schools were built not only in Elkridge but in newer parts of Ellicott City, North Laurel, and Western Howard County. As a result more established areas of the Howard like Columbia and older parts Ellicott City were largely ignored and their School Buildings began to age and decay. These Schools received nothing in School Construction Dollars in the 1990s; Athtolon ES, Bryant Woods, Bushy Park, Centennial Lane, Clarksville ES, Clemens Crossing, Guilford, Laurel Woods, Lisbon, Northfield, Running Brook, Talbott Springs, Thunderhill, and West Friendship.
The County's ignoring Schools was not just done on the Elementary level these Middle and High Schools also received the shaft in the 1990s; Clarksville MS, Ellicott Mills, and Hammond MS. High Schools include Centennial and Glenelg. Almost all of these Schools experienced major population growth in the 1990s despite their districts shrinking by new Schools. It should also be noted that none of these Schools are located in Elkridge.    

2000 Although no construction projects took place it should be noted that Rockburn received relief through redistricting. A part of its district was sent to Waterloo while part of Waterloo was split between Phelps Luck and Jeffers Hill.

2001 Ilchester Elementary receives a classroom addition.
The new Ellicott Mills opens thereby allowing Bonnie Branch to open to its own district. 

2002 Howard begins a muti year modernization project that includes a full renovation to the existing building, partial demolition of dated parts, and new additions. When completed Howard High will be almost unrecognizable.
2003 Bellows Spring Elementary opens providing relief through redistricting all across the northeastern part of Howard County as well as parts of Columbia.

2004 Rockburn receives a large classroom addition.

2005 Howard High's multi year Modernization continues with demolitions in both the western and eastern sides of the building.

2006 Howard High's multi year Modernization is completed.

2007 Rockburn receives a Kindergarten Addition

2008 Deep Run &Ilchester each receive Kindegarten Additions.

2009 Bellows Spring receives a Kindergarten Addition, Elkridge ES receives a major Addition that includes a two story classroom wing, a larger Cafeteria with more windows, renovating Grade 1-5 classrooms into Kindergarten classrooms, renovating a classroom into a Teacher Workroom, an addition of a Parks & Rec Room which allowed for the existing one to be renovated into additional Music & Art rooms as well as a new Entrance canopy. Waterloo also received a top to bottom renovation in 2009.

2011 Bellows Spring receives a major addition that includes a new 2nd Gym, a new Administration Suite, the renovation of the old Admin Suite into new Music & Art Rooms, a 100 seat classroom addition, and a larger Cafeteria.

2012 Elkridge ES receives new HVAC and a partial roof replacement. Burleigh Manor Middle a school in Ellicott City that also opened in 1992 was denied funding for a new roof in order to pay for this project.

2013 ES#41 is slated to open. Residents of Ducketts Lane have complained non stop about the construction traffic in their Neighborhood despite the fact that they will have a new school in less than a year. The original site for ES#41 was supposed to be Oxford Square but Residents retaliated and the County purchased a new site while the Oxford Square site was donated. Keep in mind that this new School was funded in the deepest throws of the recession and that renovations at Longfellow, an addition at Running Brook, and a new roof at Harpers Choice Middle were all deferred in order to pay for this School.  How many Counties in this great nation of ours can say that they're building a brand new School during this tough economic times?

2014 The Oxford Square site won't go to waste because it has been selected for MS#20. I could not disagree more with this site being used for a Middle School (or any School) for a variety of reasons which I will discuss in a dedicated post.

2016 Deep Run will undergo a major renovation/addition.

2018 Elkridge ES will undergo a major renovation.

2019 Mayfield Woods will undergo a major renovation

Now there is one thing missing when it comes to School Construction in Elkridge; A High School located in Elkridge proper. I do agree that a 13th High School is needed and Elkridge is where it should be. However it won't be needed until about 2020. Until then Long Reach will open to have students from the Crowded Howard High redistricted there. The County in the mean time should bank a site in Elkirdge that's large enough for a High School. My preference is within the Troy Hill Park and proposed Tennis Center which other Elkridge Residents appear to support as well.

Now I don't disagree for one minute that Elkridge has grown immensely in the past 25 years and there appears to be no end in sight to it. I also agree that every new School, renovation, addition, and modernization that took place in Elkridge had precedence. Massive growth is going on  all throughout Howard County and Central Maryland as a whole. If one were to venture out of Elkridge and into poorer Counties that have gone through similar growth Elkridge would probably gain some perspective that Howard County is not ignoring Elkridge and that it has gotten its fair shake and then some. You just got schooled Elkridge.



Brent said...

Eh not all Elkridge residents feel that way. It's just the vocal nuts over on Ducketts Lane that fear that having a school in their backyards will reduce their property values, make their area a congested mess, and spike crime through the roof (all taken from Patch comments). They just wanna gripe about something and this tends to be the complaint de jour.

The majority of Elkridge residents are very excited for a new elementary school, middle school, and hopefully someday high school for our children.

Anonymous said...

If only you had gone to school and learned proper grammar and punctuation...

Doug K said...

Despite the construction you have document,look at the location of the overcrowded schools.

Here's the link for the Howard County Public School Feasibility Study

Turn to the chart on page 48.

Q: Where are all the "red" (indicating severely overcrowded) schools?

A: In the Northeastern portion of the County (which is for the most part Elkridge). The projected over capacity schools for 2013-14 -

Bellows Spring ES 125% of capcity.
Deep Run ES 136% of capacity.
Elkridge ES 115% of capcity.
Veterans ES 133% of capcity.
Waterloo ES 117% of capcity.

It is true that after School #41 opens, some of these will go down. But at Oxford Square, they are seeking to open a 2000 unit development, and Howard Plan 2030 seeks to concentrate growth in the Route 1 corridor.

So I'm sorry but I don't see what the fact that there's been a lot of past construction has to do with much of anything. The schools are overcrowded in the Northeastern part of the county, and that will only get worse without a serious plan to deal with it.

That means either more construction or some serious redistricting so that the underutilized schools in the West are filled closer to capacity.

For Example:

Bushy Park ES 68% of capacity
Clarksville ES 74% of capacity
Dayton Oaks ES 67% of capacity
Fulton ES 83% of capacity
Lisbon ES 74% of capacity
Pointers Run 87% of capacity
Triadelphia Ridge 72% of capacity
W Friendship 69% of capacity

So before you think Elkridge is getting some kind of privilege in new construction, you may want to think again.

Howard County is concentrating growth in the Elkridge area -- Howard County must support that growth with adequate infrastructure. Right now, that need is nowhere near being met.

Doug K said...

And then there's all of the other facilities you mentioned at the beginning -- Fire Station, Senior Center, Library. I think any quick look would tell you how inadequate the current facilities are for the current population, much less the intended growth.

Maybe Elkridge could get a police station -- or at least a substation . . .

M.M. said...

No one said that HCPSS has always completely ignored Elkridge. Elkridge residents simply are concerned that the government that approved housing growth did not coordinate efforts with the school system, such that our town could have sufficient schools for the rapid population growth.

When the housing boom in western Howard County took place, the school system built new schools in anticipation of the growth. Did that ever happen in eastern Howard County? After reviewing the history of schools in Elkridge/eastern Columbia, it seems that the school system had to make several small reactionary projects (additions and renovations) rather than providing a dedicated plan for the people of Elkridge.

Currently, our high schoolers are bussed to Columbia to populate over 50% of Howard and over 50% of Long Reach high schools. Clearly, we have sufficient population to warrant our own high school that might be convenient for our youth to walk to/from school.

Portland Roofing said...

Very informative! Thanks for your generosity of sharing these information. More power to you!

Spence Lean said...

The reason my punctuation and grammar was and is poor is due to the fact I went to Running Brook ES one of the ignored Schools from 1989-1995 when many of the new Schools in Elkridge were built. Perhaps if more funding were diverted to Running Brook, I would have learned more grammar. Yes that's right I'm accusing you Elkridge of ruining my education through your fancy new schools