Residents Push for Eastport Elementary School Expansion
The school's teachers, parents and students say overcrowding is negatively impacting the children's capacity to learn.
About two dozen people lobbied Anne Arundel County's school board to consider expanding Eastport Elementary at its second public hearing about the capital budget for 2014.
Superintendent Kevin Maxwell's proposed budget includes a $1.01 billion operating budget and $240 million capital budget. It does not include any money for the 103-year-old school to expand.
"We've grown significantly faster than anyone could have ever dreamed," said Sarah Robertson, a teacher at the school.
She said the school is already at 104 percent capacity and projected a capacity of 113 percent by 2015.
Bob Mosier, a spokesman for county schools, disagreed.
"The school is at about 86 percent capacity," Mosier said. "Some folks quibbled last night over what they called our 'erroneous' capacity number, but to be clear: That number is derived from a prescribed formula and is then verified by both the state and county."
He said that money for an expansion is not in the county's 2014 capital budget or its six-year plan.
"We have 25 or so elementary schools that are over 100 percent capacity," Mosier said.
Mary-Anne Romanoa, a speech language pathologist at Eastport, said she struggles to do her job due to crowding. She works out of the media center—which is often crowded with other students—making it nearly impossible to perform assessments.
Calling the school a source of pride, Principal Lynne Evans pleaded with the board to try to find some money to expand her school.
She said that classroom functions play musical chairs with one another and every square inch is utilized for multiple purposes. She would like the extra space for a second 5th grade room, additional pre-k space and most importantly, more private space for student instruction.
Mosier said the money—even money from the FY14 additions budget—is "already allocated to projects."