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Officials work on future overcrowding at Baltimore County Public Schools

Posted at 11:53 PM, Aug 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 11:59:23-04

Tucked away in the northeast corner of Baltimore county there's Honeygo Elementary almost ready for opening day.  A few miles away in Middle River, workers are putting the finishing touches on a new and improved Victory Villa.

And on the south-west end, Lansdowne Elementary is also gearing up to open its doors.  Construction crews have been busy.

"Just seeing the new place and walking in and seeing everything in the school and it's like cool to see everything new."  

That was Sid Stanovich's reaction last year when he showed up at Relay Elementary.       

The 6-year-old was part of the inaugurating kindergarten class, he was among the 620 students at the brand new school.       

A year later the little trees and shrubs are still a dead giveaway to the school's newness.

"He was so excited about having so much room in his classrooms.

Angie Knight's son was also new last year.  He'd come from the older, much smaller Relay elementary.

"In the old school because it was so crowded the music had to come to their classroom in a traveling cart and in the new school they have a brand new music wing."

"Here we're standing in a pod where we can bring 4 or 5 classrooms of students out, and do a whole group lesson, and kind of share a mini assembly with students."

While other communities grapple with overcrowding concerns, Principal Jason Barnett says these new state of the art elementary schools are planning for the future.

"When they opened Relay they were thinking 5,7,10 years down the road what's the enrollment, what's the population?  They have done those projections."

"I have a middle schooler so I'm very concerned by the time she gets to high school just how overcrowded and in addition to the conditions especially at Towson and Dulaney."

But concern about the high schools is why parents are packing information sessions hosted by Baltimore County Public Schools.

Anirban Basu is the analyst hired by the district to look at options to accommodate an exploding high school student population. He says the district could be facing a crisis in the next 10 years a shortfall of seats for 1700  students.

"We know this, some money is gonna have to be spent because there is just not enough seats for the kids to come."

While there are some schools like Catonsville, Towson, and Perry Hall high that will be desperately overcrowded by 2027, there are others like Woodlawn that will be under capacity.

"There's no silver bullet.  It's really going to be a blend of things that cover the entire county."

Councilman David Marks says they're looking at 7 scenarios to ease the overcrowding. They range from moving students from their neighborhood schools to less crowded buildings, to create more Magnet schools or moving Magnet school programs to build new schools.

"Just build new schools, build new spaces ones that contain more than 1700 students."

The price tag could run anywhere from 300 to 600 million dollars.

"Right now I'm all about build it, just go and build whatever you need, but I know there's a high price tag that should be considered for taxpayers."

At Relay the investment is already made.  While kindergarten teachers ready their space for the next group of early learners to enter their classroom, they believe it's paying off.

"Having 22 little 5-year-old’s be with you all day long it's incredible.  It's a good space to be in."

Unfortunately, space is at a premium for the middle and upper-level students right now. 

Next month Baltimore county will have more public information sessions and offer an online survey for its high school capacity study.

If you would like to read all seven options on the table, click here.