Five new schools are needed in Anne Arundel County to accommodate increased student enrollment, and the county is looking at a $2.1 billion infrastructure backlog with regard to school facilities, according to an independent updated school facilities study presented to the Board of Education today.
The study placed Edgewater, Tyler Heights and Richard Henry Lee elementary schools at the top of the $1.1 billion Phase I recommendations, followed by Quarterfield and Hillsmere elementary schools. Two new schools – a Crofton high school and a new “Old Mill West” high school – placed sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Strategic Facilities Utilization Master Plan, commissioned by Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Anne Arundel County government, makes recommendations regarding the prioritization of school construction projects across the county. It also offers recommendations about ideal school sizes and redistricting to alleviate overcrowding in some schools.
The study was prepared by MGT of America Inc., the same firm that developed AACPS’ original study in 2006.
In formulating the recommended priority list, MGT used four assessments: building condition, educational suitability, site condition and technology readiness. A weighted formula – assigning 55 percent to building condition, 35 percent to educational suitability, and 5 percent each to site condition and technology readiness – was used to calculate an overall score for each school.
The study also took into account what it considers preferred – but not mandated – school sizes at each level: 1,600 for high schools, 1,200 for middle schools and 600 for elementary schools. Those figures align relatively closely with a state report issued recently that found ideal school sizes to be 1,700 for high schools, 900 for middle schools and 700 for elementary schools.
“Ultimately, it is the children of our county who will benefit greatly from this work,” Board of Education President Stacy Korbelak said. “This study puts forth a blueprint for us to create new opportunities for the children we serve, and to educate them in more state-of-the-art facilities than ever before. The citizens of our county should be proud of the efforts undertaken by all entities to produce this report.”
Next on the priority list
Rippling Woods Elementary School placed eighth on the list, followed by replacement projects at Old Mill Middle School North, Old Mill Middle School South and the existing Old Mill High School. A new elementary school in the northeast portion of the county is 12th on the list.
“The importance of the collaboration between the school system and county government in this study cannot be overstated,” County Executive Steve Schuh said. “The MGT report charts a clear course for both entities as we move forward and improve the educational environment for students across our county.”
Schools that have already received county or state funding, or which have construction projects already in progress, were not placed on the updated prioritization list and will proceed as previously scheduled, pending funding availability.
“I am very pleased with the thorough nature of this study,” County Council Chairman Jerry Walker said. “It not only lays out a path to create new facilities like the Crofton high school, but it recognizes the need to quickly fix outdated facilities like Edgewater Elementary School.”
The report also recommended a new high school and a new elementary school in the western portion of the county. AACPS is projected to have more than 80,000 students this year, and grow to more than 86,000 by 2024.
“We are a growing school system and that is largely due to the quality of our people and our programs,” Superintendent George Arlotto said. “The challenge of keeping our facilities updated is a large one, but I am pleased that the County Executive, County Council, our Board of Education, and I are aligned and prepared to travel this road together.”
The complete report and other documents related to the study can be found at the Anne Arundel County Public Schools website.County Public Schools website.