To the Editor:
I felt a great sense of pride as I toured the new Dundalk Elementary School last week. It is the modern facility and learning environment our kids deserve. It shows off community amenities, as well as tributes to local history. This new asset will be treasured for decades to come and I commend all those involved in bringing it to fruition, especially Principal Mike Parker and the parent advocates.
Some years ago, upon being informed of the county’s overall school construction priorities and schedule, I remember quite a different set of emotions. They included frustration and anger. We were last on the list. We were seeing new schools being built elsewhere while our kids and their teachers were being left behind in aging facilities with no air conditioning and faulty plumbing. We worked to change that.
We reasoned, and then we fought with Towson. We had some very uncomfortable conversations with county officials. As a result, not only did Dundalk get advanced, but Colgate and Berkshire will now open years in advance of the original schedule that caused so much dissatisfaction among us.
While we are in an era of unprecedented school construction and an economic resurgence, the work to attract investment, revitalize a community devastated by job loss, and balance growth with resources does not end with recent successes. There is more work to be done.
Sparrows Point High School and Middle School have been identified by county officials as being due for replacement. I wholeheartedly agree. The same effort put into bringing millions of dollars in new elementary schools is needed to alleviate the over-capacity issues at Sparrows Point. I can assure you that effort is underway. New schools at Sparrows Point are a component to the long-term vision of what we need to do and the decisions we need to make in order to reach our potential.
That long term vision includes increasing the quality of our housing stock. Recently, some people – whether misinformed or irresponsible or both – have misrepresented the review process and school districting process regarding the proposed housing development at Sparrows Point Country Club. This development, if ultimately approved, would be the only waterfront, country club, golf course, marina community in the whole state; something entirely unique we can look to that is part of a larger vision of how we get back to pride and prosperity.
Parents and students in the Edgemere/Sparrows Point district (where the SPCC homeowners would send their kids) should absolutely be concerned about over-crowding. I share the concern. However, we should base ourselves in the reality that the SPCC development will be built in phases over the next 8-10 years which only adds a few students per year to the system.
Furthermore, the proposed development is subject to Adequate Public Facilities regulations. All of this was under consideration a year ago when I sponsored the legislation to enable the development to move forward. To make knee-jerk statements about stopping the development review process lacks understanding, lacks vision, and is a disservice to the greater good.
We are worthy of investment and we need to think more thoroughly and strategically than ever before. We need to know that we deserve the investments, that we will not turn them away because of baseless conspiracy theories, and that we can accomplish great things together.
We have proven we believe this of ourselves, and Dundalk Elementary School is the most recent, shining example.
Todd Crandell, R-7
Baltimore County Council