Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell’s fiscal year 2014 capital budget proposes that a feasibility study be conducted for Edgewater Elementary School in 2016 to examine the physical state of the school and conceive a plan for future additions or renovations.
Ever since a county Board of Education hearing in January where students said the air quality at Edgewater Elementary was making them physically ill, local parents have been calling for the board to make serious improvements at the school.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) sent an air-quality specialist to examine the school’s condition and helped oversee maintenance upgrades to equipment at Edgewater Elementary.
Last year, Maxwell proposed that Edgewater Elementary undergo a feasibility study in 2016 to pursue possible modernizations, revitalizations or replacements.
However, after adopting that plan and sending it to the county council, Edgewater Elementary was nowhere to be found in the final budget approved by County Executive John Leopold.
The study would initially cost about $2.8 million in 2016, according to AACPS budget documents. But since feasibility studies are not eligible for state funding, the county must front the bill entirely.
AACPS spokesman Bob Mosier described feasibility studies as an examination of a five-option plan to renovate a school, ranging in severity and cost. After such a study, the Board of Education then decides which plan of action is best for the facility, its students and the school system.
“What it does is it takes a look at what would be necessary to accomplish each [of the five options], the projected cost and what you’d gain in terms of space or other amenities.” Mosier said.
According to AACPS budget documents, a feasibility study examines the cost and benefits of the following options:
- Do nothing—A no cost option where no work occurs on site or in the building. This option is used to establish a baseline for comparison to other schemes.
- Patch and Paint—This minimum approach repairs maintenance items and provides a fresh coat of paint to the facility. Building systems are not updated or replaced and no site improvements occur. Students remain in school while maintenance work is conducted.
- Revitalization—This option addresses building and life safety issues in existing school buildings. Additions may be constructed to provide new spaces and some portions of the school may be demolished. Renovations are conducted without making significant structural changes despite possible demolitions.
- Modernization—This option represents a complete renovation of existing buildings and additions, addressing all building and life safety issues.
- Replacement—This option provides a completely new facility designed in accordance with Educational Specifications to comply with building, life safety, and accessibility codes and standards. Students remain in the existing building during construction of an entirely new building.
Edgewater Elementary PTA president Jenny Corkill has spearheaded the effort to get the school higher up on the list of schools to be renovated and said she doesn’t expect the feasibility study to occur in 2016.
“We know the Board of Education can propose anything, but as we saw last year … a feasibility study for Edgewater is not likely and certainly not in 2016,” Corkill said.
With a current enrollment of 515 students, the number puts more pressure on the existing building, Corkill added.
As it currently stands, Maxwell’s capital budget proposal would have the county provide $2.8 million for the feasibility study in 2016, followed by more than $34 million for construction or potential renovations from 2017-2019.
With the county council slated to finalize all budgets for fiscal year 2014 in May 2013, the next eight months will determine whether Edgewater Elementary parents get what they want or will continue waiting.
Editor's Note: This article has been adjusted to show Edgewater Elementary holds 515 students.