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UPDATE: Councilman Blasts Plan to Build School in Mays Chapel

BCPS has not formally announced the decision to build the new elementary school in Timonium.

UPDATE (5:02 p.m.)—Charles Herndon, a Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman, said no final site decision has been made at this time regarding construction of a new elementary school.

He added however, "We can't lose sight of the fact that we need a elementary school," to alleviate ongoing overcrowding issues in the public schools system.

Patch will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

ORIGINAL— blasted Baltimore County Public Schools for a lack of community input prior to making a decision to build a new 700-seat elementary school in Mays Chapel.

Huff, in a statement released Monday, criticized the plan, which he said was made "behind closed doors."

Huff told Patch that he was made aware of the decision at a lunch meeting with Superintendent Joe Hairston, fellow council members David Marks and Vicki Almond, as well as other school system representatives more than a week ago.

“Just a few months ago, we were told that nothing had been finalized and that several sites along the York Road corridor were still being considered as options,” Huff stated in the release. “Now, without contacting me, and without reaching out to my constituents in the Mays Chapel community, we’re told that it’s a done deal and that Mays Chapel is the site.”

Charles Herndon, a school system spokesman, could not immediately confirm that the decision to build in Mays Chapel has been finalized.

Huff told Patch in an interview Monday morning that his office has been in contact with school system officials for at least six months and that a plan to build “wasn’t on the drawing boards” until last week’s meeting. The other site considered for the new 700-seat elementary school was on 19.94 acres in the Dulaney Springs neighborhood.

Patch reported in October that

Huff echoed his constituents’ sentiments.

“I realize that a Baltimore County councilman has no authority over the public school system and that my colleagues and I are expected to merely give the schools a half billion dollars per year for their programs, but I expect something in return,” Huff continued in his release. “I expect that my constituents and I will at least be given the courtesy of having some input into decisions about school sites.

“The site is in a densely-populated area,” Huff continued. “Putting a school there not only makes traffic issues worse but also eliminates recreational space. This was a bad idea when it was suggested and rejected several years ago [in 2008], and it’s still a bad idea.”

Huff said he was promised that community informational meetings would take place before any decision came to fruition.

He said, although he was uncertain, that he believed the new school would be opened by 2014.

Stay with Patch as we continue to update this story.

patchreader February 14, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Don't densely populated areas need schools? The area is so densely populated that the schools are overflowing with kids. And the site is right off Padonia Road, not in the middle of some bucolic area that is far removed from traffic. ... It is ridiculous that Mays Chapel residents are complaining about BCPS building a school on land that BCPS owns for the express purpose of building a school. Talk about selfish.
Jean Suda February 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM
The Mays Chapel site was on the ADC map as a planned elementary school 20 years ago when my family moved into the area. I thought my now 23 year old daughter and 21 year old son would attend elementary school there. Instead, the county made an accommodation so that developer Keelty could have one of the many town homes tracts he developed in the area front directly onto Padonia Road (which would have been the entrance to the planned school site). BCPS took land further behind the direct access site, and Keelty marketed the town homes as being next to a park. Take a look at many of the elementary schools in the area, Pinewood Elem. for example. They all have park or playground space next to the school. It is used by the school children and the neighborhood and the LTRC (rec council). Just think how much money was wisely spent by buying the land for a school in anticipation of development and subsequent need when the land was so much cheaper. We like to criticize government for not being wise stewards of the public purse. Now when the need arises for another school (just take a look at how crowded the central area elementary schools are!), the "neighbors" are objecting. Twenty years ago, the neighbors on my block could have complained about the increase in traffic and congestion from the Mays Chapel development. We did not, because Padonia Road was improved, a convenient shopping center was created, and tax revenues increased. That's progress!
Buck Harmon February 14, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Maybe a home schooling resource center could be put there instead... things would begin to get better with time... the public education system is controlled by gov. If the gov. has clearly demonstrated that it can't manage itself, how can it be trusted with the precious education of our children? We've been dumbed down for too long. Make a stand where it really counts... in the quality of education... not where the building is plopped. If things were good with the system, communities would embrace it. Seems like these communities relate schools with problems. That has to change.
Ann B February 14, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I know I am probably a minority but why not just add additions (not trailers) to the schools that already exist? Every school that seems to have a crowding issue, has lots of property on its site. To spend the money on the planning and building of a new school doesn't seem like a smart move. The residents of Mays Chapel will get organized and fight this issue, which will only add to the expense. Enrollment levels are constantly changing - up & down. I agree that something has to be done about the overcrowding but I don't feel building a brand new school to be the answer.
Nancy Burke February 14, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Yes, it appears more schools are needed in the Towson area. BUT, the Mays Chapel area school would be in the middle of tens of thousands of homes owned by senior citizens with no children. Children would have to be bused, school district lines reconfigured, and the ten acres of park land (included in this proposal) and deemed parkland would be destroyed. Parents buy homes in neighborhoods providing the schools they wish their children to attend. With either redistricting or busing young children long distances as the option and with senior citizens deprived of any open space, the proposed school in Mays Chapel is not the answer. Nancy Burke

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