The Carroll County Board of Education unanimously approved construction design specifications for new kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classrooms at Cranberry Station, Friendship Valley, Sandymount and Taneytown elementary schools this week.
Two kindergartens and one pre-K classroom will be built at each of the four schools, increasing each school’s capacity by 64 students, according to the specifications. Construction will begin in June 2025.
The construction planning committee is composed of a school board member, central office personnel, county management and budget project coordinator Taylor Hockensmith, as well as representatives from each school.
Patricia Dorsey became the official Board of Education representative on the committee after being approved unanimously at the school board’s April meeting, and Donna Sivigny serves as an unofficial second school board member.
The specifications include two bathrooms for each new classroom, which Sivigny said was a top priority for teachers on the planning committee.
“The teachers are really fantastic,” Dorsey said. “They let you know what they want and what they need — what works for them.”
The bathrooms are considered an educational priority because difficult bathroom situations cut into instructional time. Although the plan is subject to change as designs are formalized, Sivigny said the planning committee would be involved in the design process.
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“We’re going to try to make [the bathrooms] work if at all possible,” Sivigny said, “but it may go by the design chopping floor, depending.”
According to the Carroll County Department of Management and Budget’s recommended six-year multimillion-dollar Community Investment Plan, Cranberry Station and Sandymount each would receive $245,000 of design funding, Taneytown would receive $288,000 and Friendship Valley would get $364,000. The funding comes from local income tax revenue in fiscal 2024.
Friendship Valley’s new classrooms will also become the permanent home to the school’s PRIDE program, an intervention program for elementary students currently housed in a relocatable classroom adjacent to the school. PRIDE stands for Positive Response to Issues of Discipline with Elementary Students and is designed to help students “gain self-control and insight into their behavior in order to reduce disruptive behaviors and increase positive school behavior/adjustment and achievement,” in order to ” equip students and families with the skillset to return to their comprehensive home schools,” according to the school system.
The plan sets aside $200,000 to fund a feasibility study to determine which elementary schools could support additional pre-K classrooms, also funded by local income taxes.
In total, construction at Cranberry Station and Sandymount was projected to cost about $2.9 million each, Taneytown was projected to cost about $3.4 million, and Friendship Valley was projected at just over $4.9 million. Projects are contingent on state school construction funding, according to the investment plan, and also use bonds as a funding source.
Universal pre-K for 3-year-old children is mandated by The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a statewide education plan set to inject billions into public schools so every student — regardless of geography, household income, race, ethnicity, gender, language spoken at home, needs or other characteristics — will graduate and be ready to enter the workforce or higher education. The intention is that half the preschool space will be in private schools.
Carroll school board meetings are open to the public and live-streamed on the Carroll County Public Schools YouTube channel and viewable on the right side of the Board of Education’s website at carrollk12.org/board-of-education/meeting-information, under CETV Livestream. Meetings are also broadcast live throughout the month on Carroll Educational Television, Ch. 21.