Ducketts Lane School Funding Called Secure
Councilwoman Courtney Watson debunked the fear that money was not in the budget for a new elementary school in Elkridge.
The dirt has been piling up for a new Ducketts Lane elementary school, and so have the costs.
To alleviate overcrowding in the northeast—primarily at Bellows, Elkridge and Deep Run—a new elementary school is being built in Elkridge for a fall 2013 opening. The estimated price tag is $30.947 million.
The Howard County Times reported recently that the County Council was deferring its fiscal year 2013 budget because there wasn’t funding for the new school, a statement Councilwoman Courtney Watson (D-Elkridge/Ellicott City) said Thursday was inaccurate.
“We do have funding, but there’s one last piece that the state is going to allocate,” Watson said at the May 24 meeting of the Greater Elkridge Community Association.
The state allocated $9.675 million for fiscal year 2013 for the elementary school, which was approved May 23.
That covers more than 60 percent of the Ducketts Lane school's total estimated construction cost of total $15,871,277.
A "small balance" is available that the school system can apply for next year, according to the Interagency Council on School Construction.
At the moment, contractors' bids on the project have come in $4 million over budget, according to Ray Brown, chief operating officer for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).
"We’re going to rebid the project," said Brown during a May 17 work session on the budget with the County Council. "We’re hopeful that number will come down."
Overall, construction costs are on the rise and projects must be prioritized accordingly, said another school official.
“We’ve seen significant increases in [costs for] site work,” said Ken Roey, director of facilities for HCPSS. “We think those costs are going to continue to grow.”
To allow for money to go to higher-priority projects, "we've actually been deferring some projects already," said Roey. As a result, the new roof on Howard High School will not go in as planned, among other projects for FY 2013.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman plans to fund $70 million of the school system's $100 million capital improvement budget, said Brown, who noted: "In this environment, there are going to be some tough choices."
Watson assured constituents on Thursday that those tough choices would not affect the Ducketts Lane elementary school plans.
"Trust me," said Watson. "The money will be there for the school.”