At last night's Board of Education Meeting the Board members listened to the design team explain to them the reason - again - why the 50+ year old school needs to be replaced. Then with a vote of 6 in favor, 1 abstaining and 1 against, they voted to approve the schematic design and recommended the schedule to remain the same. One member was absent. The one vote against was Mr. Peterson, abstaining was the student member.
To my delight Councilman Jerry Walker was the first to speak in support of keeping the high school in the County's Capital Budget with the possibility that the County Council will move the project up contingent on funding. This testimony on the part of Councilman Walker should be a relief to parents in Severna Park who may have been concerned about Dick Ladd's recent vote for the Council District 1 seat and how that might have impacted our school.
The following is what Mr. Walker told the Board of Education last night:
"Recently at the request of my colleague Councilman Dick Ladd I had the opportunity to tour Severna Park High School. Patrick Bathras, Alex, Amalie and Councilman Ladd showed me the condition of the school and explained how the age of the school impacts the instruction of students who are on their way to colleges and universities across the US.
At the council we have been having informal discussions about the broader policy of school construction and I believe there is traction around the larger policy of trying to always keep one High School in process while wrapping Elementary Schools like Edgewater, Crofton, and Lothian in and around the High Schools. We are anxiously awaiting news from the state regarding school construction dollars and if we receive the anticipated funding I feel I can say with confidence that you will see some minor alterations to the sequence of elementary schools that we passed in last years budget and I feel very confident that you will see SPHS moved forward in the budget during the upcoming council budget meetings. This represents a shift forward for the Severna Park community and it's serendipitous that you are voting on the design tonight at this meeting. As a result of the pending vote we have many Severna Park residents and the SPHS Principal present to hear this announcement for the first time.
Obviously we have not voted and the budget is not finalized but I thought it was important to keep you in the loop on our informal conversations about school construction policy and to let you know that we are very concerned about this important aspect of our children's education. I would like to applaud my colleague Councilman Ladd for raising the issue of this broader policy and I look forward to future ongoing discussions between the Board and members of our council."
Councilman Walker forwarded his written testimony at my request so that I could include it in my blog today. I thought this information would be good news for the community.