County Executive Calvin Ball announced (on July 27th) the acquisition of land for the future elementary school site in the Turf Valley development. This acquisition creates sorely needed school capacity in the County’s Northern Region for elementary schools, where all 6 elementary schools have been above 100 percent of capacity utilization for 6 of the past 8 years. With this purchase, the County will invest $5.75 million to secure 10 acres of land for the construction of the County’s 44th elementary school. In May, the County Council approved County Executive Ball’s budget proposal to allocate the final $2 million needed to acquire the property. Photos of the event can be found here.
“All our students and educators deserve the best teaching and learning environment to thrive, which is why school construction has been one of my top priorities,” said Ball. “The need for an elementary school in Turf Valley was identified in 2015, and the intent to purchase this land was announced in 2017. After years of delays, we will finally acquire this property and build on our substantial investment in critical school construction projects.”
In 2016, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) requested that the County assess the viability of purchasing property at Turf Valley. While the County announced its intent to purchase this property in 2017, little progress was made to acquire the property until the beginning of the Ball Administration in December 2018. Since taking office, Ball has successfully secured $4 million of the $5.75 million needed to acquire the property, and negotiated agreements to take ownership of the land, culminating with closing on the parcel this past Friday.
“At the State level, we proudly passed the largest single investment in school construction in Maryland history, providing $2 billion statewide and $132 million here at home in Howard County, because we understand that investing in proper facilities and preventing overcrowding will have real, positive impacts on what our students are able to achieve,” said Senator Katie Fry Hester.
To address overcrowding and to ensure that Howard County’s children are learning in state-of-the-art learning centers, Ball has invested significantly in school capital project efforts. Since taking office, the Ball Administration has provided more than $58 million per year to support school capital projects, allowing the top three priority projects of the Howard County Public School System – New High School #13, Talbott Springs Elementary School, and Hammond High School to begin construction. This level of funding for school construction represents an average annual increase of nearly 25 percent over the previous four years.
“I hope that this school is built on time and under budget for the residents of Howard County,” said Delegate Reid Novotny. “It is also a stark reminder that in person, in school learning is what our children deserve for social, emotional, and educational learning.”
“Addressing overcrowding is essential and paramount to the vitality of our growing county as a leader in state-of-the-art facilities and innovative initiatives for education, said Vice Chair Jones,” said Dr. Opel Jones, Council Vice Chair. “After years of negotiations to relieve the crowded hallways of the past, we can ensure a healthy and vibrant learning environment. Today is a new day with unlimited opportunities for family’s and our future leaders in the Turf Valley community!”
“The northern region is the most overcrowded in the county, so we desperately need this new elementary school,” said David Yungmann, District 5 Councilmember. “This property acquisition is an important step and I appreciate the County Executive including the final portion of funding in this year’s budget.”
“Thank you to the county government for negotiating the purchase of the site and continuing to be a valued partner as we support long-term student enrollment growth and the projected development across our county,” said Dr. Michael J. Martirano, HCPSS Superintendent. “This property, located in the heart of a community currently experiencing significant growth, will be added to our land bank, enabling us to build a new elementary school in the future that meets the needs of our students and families, including parking, playing fields, and accommodations for community use.”
“Howard County continues to be the fastest growing county in Maryland, adding upwards of 1,000 new students each year,” said Dr. Chao Wu, Board of Education Chair. “The Turf Valley area continues to experience steady growth. I appreciate the collaborative efforts of our county government partners to secure this land for future use and ensure that our children and our schools are at the very forefront of all decision making.”
“I’ve met some wonderful people on this project in the past 17 years, but I want to thank the current leadership for getting this done finally,” said Louis Mangione, President of Mangione Enterprises of Turf Valley. “All of us stakeholders will be back here again hopefully soon for the construction of the elementary school in Turf Valley.”