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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."

Janet Norman January 11, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Patch - Please ask Mr. Mosier to explain what "other projects" are getting the money, because its very hard to find in the online budget documents, and I have searched. Please also find out what the spending will be buying for Capital Budget priorities #1 Health + Safety ($500 K yearly for next 6 years) and #2 Security Related Upgrades ($1Million yearly for next 6 years)? Isn't the health and safety of 22,092 high schoolers in AACPS worth investing in the proven outcomes of later school start times?
Melissa January 11, 2013 at 08:08 PM
There are a lot of schools in the area that are over capacity and have been for awhile. Hillsmere Elementary is is almost 100 students over capacity (capacity is 476) and growing every year. Hillsmere has NEVER been renovated or updated either - no seperate gym/cafeteria like Eastport and no AC in said Cafetorium like Eastport. When they have music classes being held in the lobby, gym going on in the gym and strings lessons being held behind the curtain on the stage in the gym, then they can ask for more space!
Sarah January 11, 2013 at 09:04 PM
As a point of clarification, Eastport does not have a separate gym, cafeteria and auditorium - they are all the same small room. Also Eastport would count themselves lucky to have only two things going on in the cafegymnatorium at the same time. Please stop stressing - Eastport is not trying to change your status on the list:) Our project is so small that it comes under a separate line item than Hillsmere - we are not in competition with each other. When and if we ever get our small addition will have no impact at all on Hillsmere.
Sarah January 11, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Patch - could you also ask Mr. Mosier if he has actually seen the data provided by Eastport concerning the school capacity? A very comprehensive report was submitted last night which showed how the Board of Education had made errors in applying their prescribed formula. The Board are currently reviewing the report.
Melissa January 11, 2013 at 10:50 PM
While I appreciate that EES does not want to change Hillsmere's status on the list, requests from EES can delay or hinder all schools. Hillsmere has been at or above capacity for the last 3 years and we have just received our 2nd "Portable" classroom after many requests. Our school is in desperate need of expansion as well, we have over 100 first graders alone! The 5th grade class went from 78 in the 2011-2012 school year to 87 for this year which is unheard of, typically as the students get older, the classes get smaller. According the MGT study, HES should not have been to capacity until 2017 so we are 5 years ahead of that schedule. Plus, there have been numerous subdivisions built within the HES district that were not accounted for during the initial study therefore adding more students to already at-capacity numbers. Also, Hillsmere does not have air conditioning in the gym/cafetorium. So on sweltering hot days the kids are forced to eat in a room that is well over 100' (with the kitchen cooking providing more heat), while other children are sitting on a hot stage under stage lights behind a heavy curtain for band instruction, meanwhile, in a little hallway off the stage there is a 10x10 classroom that the music teacher is teaching his class. If there is money to be had, it should go to schools that have had ZERO renovations, expansions or retrofitting done since they were built (over 40 years ago) that are in more desperate need of everything.
Natalie BP January 12, 2013 at 03:08 PM
If my husband were able today ... a wonderful man and fantastic loan officer helped numerous Annapolis esidents save their homes and dreams and credit.... Steve would show the city how to get a construction loan done and raise up the roof on the Eastport Elementary school and it not cost or burden a budget!! Instead he would have listened with his heart and experience and saw the NEED necessary NEED and worked the numbers and possibilities... It can be done! Steve work your spirited magic in this situation! I believe it can be done and should be and won't throw the budget whatsoever ~ construction loan & fundraisers! 1909 the Eastport school was built; did Ivhear that correctly at the budget meeting? Wow 4 classrooms - cost effective to build UP not out~ from the child's voice "only 4 classrooms we need" ! Seriously we have to hear our historic town and young generation enlighten the adults. Find a way. Please.

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