City school officials in Baltimore have broken ground on the next five schools that will undergo renovations or replacement as part of the district's 21st Century School Buildings Program.
The Baltimore Sun reports that two of the five schools — Arlington Elementary/Middle and John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle — will be renovated and expanded. Bay-Brook Elementary/Middle and Calvin G. Rodwell will be replaced entirely. The Fairmount-Harford building, which is the future home of the REACH! Partnership School, will undergo renovations.
The $1 billion facilities initiative was established in 2013 by the Maryland General Assembly in partnership with the city, the Maryland Stadium Authority, the city school system and the state’s Interagency Committee on School Construction.
Officials expect to finish construction at Arlington and Fairmount-Harford in September 2019. The rest of the schools should reopen by January 2020.
“These five buildings represent some of the most egregious challenges that schools in this city face,” said Baltimore schools CEO Sonja Santelises. “This is part of a larger plan to look at the most challenged buildings.”
Santelises says problems with outdated infrastructure, including plumbing, heating and air conditioning, have long plagued Baltimore's school buildings.
Nearly half of the school district's 171 campuses experienced heating troubles or burst pipes in January. The city recently identified more than 70 schools with “inadequate cooling or no air-conditioning."
Each of the new buildings will have two music rooms, at least one art room, a technology room, a science laboratory and collaborative spaces for students, says Nicole Price, a spokeswoman for the 21st Century School Buildings Program.
Officials estimate it will cost more than $170 million to renovate and replace the five schools.
The 21st Century program has already renovated or replaced four schools: Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle was replaced and Frederick Elementary, Lyndhurst Elementary/Middle and Dorothy I. Height Elementary were renovated with additions.
Five more renovated or rebuilt buildings — Arundel Elementary, Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle, Forest Park High, Pimlico Elementary/Middle School and Robert Poole Middle — will be unveiled by the first day of school in September, Price said. Arundel was the only school that was replaced, while the others were renovated with additions.
Officials say the initiative is on track to renovate or rebuild up to 28 schools over the next 10 years.