A months-long dispute between the Baltimore County Council and Baltimore County Public School administrators about where to build a new high school is defused — for now.
Baltimore County leaders are considering a path forward for a sticky issue. The county wants to make best use of its planning and development arm, but school officials warn that decision could add up to $40 million more to the price tag of a school that already would cost around $150 million to build.
The issue is how to ease overcrowding in high schools across a fast-growing section of Northeast Baltimore County.
School officials have proposed to replace Loch Raven High School, which was built in 1972, with a new building that could seat several hundred more students. The potentially larger Loch Raven school could be a release valve for nearby crowded schools by moving school boundary lines.
Loch Raven High is rated by the state to hold 1,049 students. As of this year, there are 950 students enrolled, according to data from the school system.
The Baltimore County School Board debated the future of Loch Raven during its Jan. 24 meeting.
“Seats are needed,” said Pete Dixit, executive director of facilities management and strategic planning for the county schools.
Dixit warned if a new high school isn’t built, more students will have to go to class in trailers.
District 5 Councilman David Marks, a Republican, was miffed because he said the school system ignored a request from the County Council last fall to consider a different site, this one in Middle River, for a new high school.
“For me, it’s galling that they have not even looked at this site,” Marks said in an interview earlier this month.
The County Council signs off each year on more than $2 billion in funding for the school system.
Despite that, the council has little say about how school officials spend the money. Council members have repeatedly voiced frustration that they are ignored by school officials.
The council passed two resolutions asking for the Middle River site to be considered. The first was last fall. The second was in early January. School Superintendent Darryl Williams, in a Jan. 24 letter to the council, agreed to have the site studied.
Marks said he is pleased with Williams’ decision.
“I need to know if that school site is feasible,” Marks said.
That’s because it’s wrapped up in a plan by a developer, Middle River LLC, to put warehouses on 400 acres in Middle River.