Victory Villa Elementary building halfway completed
After over two years of planning, the new Victory Villa Elementary School building is finally coming together. On Tuesday, October 17, local officials and residents gathered at the base of the rapidly riding new school building for a ground-breaking ceremony marking the half-way point of construction.
“I can proudly say that our staff, students, and families
are thrilled to witness this transformation of our historical, temporary, schoolhouse into a 21st-century learning environment,” said Victory Villa principal Marge Roberts.
Construction on the $39 million new building, which will double the school’s capacity, being able to house 735 students, began in August of 2016. It will be completed in August of 2018.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz explained that the new school will go a long way in reducing overcrowdedness in other area schools. A controversial boundary study to determine zoning changes based on the school’s new capacity was completed this summer, ultimately affecting eight elementary schools.
Students whose homes are zoned to a new school as a result of the boundary change decision will move when the new boundaries are effective for the 20182019 school year. Families will be notified in March 2018 regarding how the new boundaries may affect them.
Edward Gilliss Esp., the chair of the Baltimore County Board of Education, said the new facility will “honor the scholastic his- tory that has happened on this spot.”
He explained that old building on Compass Rd. was erected nearly 70 years ago and was originally dubbed the “Middle River School”. It was built for students whose families had just moved into the area to work at Martin Marietta Plant during World War II.
The school was meant to be temporary, however, it was still being used until the summer of last year.
In June of 2016, the school hosted one final open house for students, past and present, to say goodbye to the old schoolhouse before it was razed a month later.
“I think it’s time for a change and I bet you agree with me,” said Gilliss. “As Eastern Baltimore County has grown, our school system has grown with it. This site will house a center for learning in the Middle River community, a place where children will grow and thrive while honoring the community’s history and identity.”
Roberts said that she, and her personal insight into the needs of her students, has been a contributor in the planning process since the beginning.
“I’ve been involved with the process from the feasibility study, to even determine how and where we’re going to build and what kind of building we’ll have,” she said, excitedly adding that they’ve moved on to the “fun” part of the planning which includes picking out paint colors and furniture.
She said her students, who all live just a few blocks from the school, see the every-day progress of their new building as it transforms from a dirt lot to a brand-new facility.
“They’re so excited,” said Roberts.
Verletta White, the Interim Superintendent of BCPS, praised the hard work and collaboration that went into the project, including local businesses who contributed funding and support.
“Schools are the hub of a community. We have keep that in mind whenever we’re building a new facility or whenever we’re supporting an existing facility,” she said.
Victory Villa is the 83rd of 90 schools in Baltimore County being renovated or rebuilt since 2011 as part of $1.3 billion investment in area schools.
Kamenetz said these schools were suffering from “aging, crumbling infrastructure” and that the renovation will add 10,000 classroom seats. He said that for every $1 they receive from the state for this project, the county puts $2 in.
“We’re pulling kids out of trailers and putting them into modern learning environments.”