The renovations, which include a new HVAC system, new roof, accessibility upgrades, new classrooms and technology, now includes a list of “add alternates” — pieces that will get done if money is left after the initial renovations — such as sound and lighting upgrades in the auditorium, a renovated gym, a greenhouse, cafeteria skylights and new kitchen and serving line equipment.
Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman Mychael Dickerson said construction costs appear to be higher than they were when the schematic design for the renovations was made. The funding has not been cut, he added.
“It is quite common that everything that we want we cannot do because the market fluctuates,” said Pete Dixit, executive director of facilities at BCPS, “and sometimes the market is favorable and we are able to do a lot more.”
The school opened in the fall of 1964 to sophomores and juniors. The building did not have an HVAC system, and recent studies determined it would be more efficient to rebuild than to retrofit the existing building with air conditioning. The renovations are slated to be completed in time for the 2016-17 school year.
Councilwoman Vicki Almond (D-District 2), along with state Dels. Dan Morhaim, Dana Stein and Shelly Hettleman and state Sen. Bobby Zirkin, all of the 11th District, wrote a letter to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz asking for the renovations to be completed in full. Almond said the additional pieces may cost around $7 million.
“This happens once every 50 years and we feel like we shouldn’t be skimping on any of the items,” Almond said. “We just feel like after all this time and trouble that we deserve to have the full funding for the full project whether [costs] came in higher or not.”
Because the state had already given what funding it can according to a formula, Almond said, additional funding would have to come from the county. With uncertainty on how much state funding the county will be receiving in the state’s budget, she said the request for additional funding is at a stand-still.
The school community is also rallying to get all pieces of the renovations done. Jill Cohen, vice president of programming for Pikesville’s parent teacher student association, said the most upsetting possible cuts were a sun shade outside of the front entrance and the auditorium upgrades.
“I was on the stage when I was a student there back in the mid-’80s,” she said. “It hasn’t changed.”
She said the PTSA is appealing to the Baltimore County Board of Education. Her son Bradley graduates in May.
As construction trudges along, about 80 percent of the school is now in three modular buildings that hold a total of 34 classrooms. Acting Principal Joy O’Brien-Krack said construction seems to be running on schedule, and is excited about what renovations are sure to get done.
“We’re still gaining classrooms and state of the art equipment,” she said. “I’m grateful that it’s happening and it’s going to be a beautiful building.”
Dixit said there’s little chance that the add alternates will get done with the current funding, or even further down the road, but stressed that the essential improvements are getting done.
“Most of the key instructional spaces and all the code and health license safety requirements, they will be met and it will beautiful building once it’s done,” he said.
For more info on the renovations, visit bcps.org.