The Baltimore County School Board rejected last night plans to renovate Dulaney High School in Timonium after parents argued to wait for a new school. And that could put in jeopardy County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s plan to have all county schools air conditioned in the next couple of years.
Supporters of building a new Dulaney High School packed the school board meeting, giving rounds of applause to speakers with this message: Dulaney is so old, so dilapidated, so dangerous, that a renovation is not enough. They said they are willing to wait. Put off the renovation until money comes available for a brand new school.
Jamie Pazolla is a 1986 graduate of Dulaney. Two of his children are Dulaney graduates and a third is a junior there. Pazolla said the proposed 40 million dollar renovation is not enough.
“It’s a limited repair,” Pazolla said. “With some air conditioning thrown on top. That’s all it really is. To make up for years and years of neglect in the building.”
Neglect that has led to sagging floors, brown water and steam pipe explosions.
Dulaney is in County Councilman Wade Kach’s district. Kach said the county wanted to renovate rather than replace Dulaney, as well as Lansdowne High School, because County Executive Kevin Kamenetz promised to have all schools in the county air conditioned within the next couple of years.
“This would go beyond that date,” Kach said. “Because you can’t build a new school overnight or we certainly can’t afford two new schools overnight.”
Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for Kamenetz, said the plan to renovate the high school had been in place for years and that the county simply can’t afford to spend 135 million dollars on a new Dulaney High School.
So Kobler said the administration will move ahead with plans to build schools in other parts of the county. Kobler added that the board’s decision will delay when Dulaney will get AC.
Lansdowne High is another matter.
The board decided not to approve a renovation that already was in the works. Instead, the board voted to start over again with Lansdowne with a more robust, expensive renovation.
Lansdowne is in County Council Chair Tom Quirk’s district. He told the board he supports the renovation upgrade, and asked the state to help pay for it. Quirk pointed out the governor and comptroller have been pushing the county to renovate and air condition schools.
Quirk said, “I call on Governor Hogan and the comptroller to match dollar for dollar our county investment. I call on the governor and comptroller to invest an additional 20 to 30 million specifically at Lansdowne High School.”
Board member David Uhlfelder cautioned not to put off for too long the Lansdowne renovation. Uhlfelder said if you do that, Lansdowne will have to scrap it out with other schools for money in the future.
“And then the politics will come in,” Uhlfelder said. “And you can sit there and deny it and deny it out there but the politics will come in of which community is going to have more voice or the loudest yell.”
Kobler said the administration will consider a new bid for Lansdowne, and hopes to get the school air conditioned on schedule.
Meantime, advocates for a new school at Dulaney, while they came away empty last night, say they are optimistic that their waiting game gambit for a new school will some day pay off.
Also last night, the school board approved two non-controversial, multi-million dollar renovations for Patapsco and Woodlawn High Schools.