New Vic­tory Villa El­e­men­tary School wel­comes first classes

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

On Tues­day, Septem­ber 4, the start of the school year, the stu­dents of Vic­tory Villa El­e­men­tary will be walk­ing into a new fa­cil­ity for the first time.

The new build­ing on Com­pass Rd. will wel­come in a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 735 stu­dents, nearly dou­bling its ca­pac­ity from the old build­ing. Con­struc­tion of the build­ing be­gan in Au­gust of 2016 af­ter the old fa­cil­ity was razed the month be­fore. In Oc­to­ber of last year, school of­fi­cials gath­ered at the base of the soon-to-be school to

“break ground”, 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 Roberts at the ground­break­ing.

“There’s al­ways a sense of pride in the com­mu­nity when you have a nice, new fa­cil­ity,” said Coun­cil­woman Cathy Bevins (D-6). “It’s hard to get ex­cited when you walk by a school that is run-down with bad fields and rusty fences, there’s no way to feel good in it. But with this new build­ing be­ing well-main­tained I just think that is go­ing to lift peo­ple in the area up be­cause they’ll feel good walk­ing into a school with all the up-to-date tech­nol­ogy.”

The new build­ing cost $39 mil­lion and was de­vel­oped over a two-year plan­ning period.

Up un­til this week, Vic­tory Villa stu­dents were tak­ing classes at the Rosedale Cen­ter on Old Philadel­phia Rd. The stu­dents walk­ing in the doors next Tues­day will be the first to break in the new desks and chalk­boards.

Vic­tory Villa El­e­men­tary School, along with a ma­jor­ity of other pri­mary schools near it, was fac­ing is­sues with over­crowd­ing due to in­creas­ing en­roll­ment. This was one of the ma­jor rea­sons a new build­ing was needed.

In Jan­uary 2017, BCPS es­tab­lished a Bound­ary Study Com­mit­tee to over­see the process of draw­ing bound­aries to fill the new seats at Vic­tory Villa which was com­prised of prin­ci­pals, teach­ers, and par­ents of the schools af­fected by the study. Mul­ti­ple open fo­rums and on­line sur­veys were also avail­able for fam­i­lies to give feed­back. The study af­fected over eight area el­e­men­tary schools and nearly 4,000 stu­dents. De­bates were tense as many par­ents wor­ried about their chil­dren be­ing re­lo­cated, how­ever af­ter 6-months of dis­cus­sion, the Com­mit­tee rec­om­mended Op­tion D-1 with a few amend­ments to move for­ward to the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion for con­sid­er­a­tion. Bevins said that the process “was not as painful as it could’ve been” and that the ma­jor­ity of fam­i­lies were sat­is­fied and even “thrilled” with the fi­nal re­sults.

To view maps of Op­tion D-1 and the plan­ning blocks that were re­zoned, visit www.bcps.org/con­struc­tion/vic­to­ryVilla.

The first Vic­tory Villa school build­ing was ac­tu­ally dubbed the “Mid­dle River School” when it was built nearly 70 years ago for the chil­dren whose fam­i­lies had just moved to work at Martin Marietta Plant in Mid­dle River dur­ing World War II. Al­though it was built to be a tem­po­rary fa­cil­ity, it was used for decades. Vic­tory Villa El­e­men­tary is one of three new build­ings “de­but­ing” in BCPS this year. The oth­ers are Honeygo El­e­men­tary in the Perry Hall area and a new Lans­downe El­e­men­tary, ex­plained Brandon Oland, a Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Spe­cial­ist for BCPS.

“The new schools are part of Bal­ti­more County’s $1.3 bil­lion school ren­o­va­tion and con­struc­tion pro­gram. The ini­tia­tive aims to elim­i­nate over­crowd­ing in the el­e­men­tary schools, mod­ern­ize the schools in great­est need, and in­stall cen­tral air con­di­tion­ing in all re­main­ing non-air con­di­tioned schools,” said Oland. Bevins added that Red House Run El­e­men­tary School will also be adding 250 seats with an ad­di­tion meant to tar­get over­crowd­ed­ness. BCPS pre­dicts that these up­grades will add 10,000 class­room seats to area schools.

“The new Vic­tory Villa El­e­men­tary will sup­port a 21st-cen­tury learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents, and we are look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing them into the new build­ing Sept. 4,” said Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Schools In­terim Su­per­in­ten­dent Ver­letta White. “I ap­pre­ci­ate every­one who worked so hard to com­plete the lat­est pro­jects in the Bal­ti­more County Schools for our Fu­ture ini­tia­tive.” Vic­tory Villa is the 83rd of 90 schools in Bal­ti­more County to be ren­o­vated or re­built since 2011. “We’ve been work­ing re­ally hard with the school sys­tem and ad­min­is­tra­tors to make this hap­pen. I’m very happy with the re­sults,” said Bevins.

“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,” said Ed­ward Gil­liss Esp., the chair of the Bal­ti­more County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion back in Oc­to­ber.

These new schools are part of Bal­ti­more County’s $1.3 bil­lion school ren­o­va­tion and con­struc­tion pro­gram. The ini­tia­tive aims to elim­i­nate over­crowd­ing in the el­e­men­tary schools, mod­ern­ize the schools, and in­stall cen­tral air con­di­tion­ing in all re­main­ing non-air con­di­tioned schools.

PHO­TOS BY GIANNA DECARLO

Of­fi­cials and fu­ture stu­dents broke ground, lit­er­ally, on the site of the new Vic­tory Villa El­e­men­tary School build­ing in Oc­to­ber of 2017.

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