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Deal Yields a School for Northeast

By Ylan Q. Mui and Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page HO02

A new elementary school will be built in the fast-growing northeastern section of Howard County as a result of an unusual multimillion-dollar deal between the school system and private property owners.

The school, scheduled to open in 2007, will be situated on nearly two dozen acres off Montgomery Road in Ellicott City formerly owned by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7472 and the YMCA of Central Maryland.

Chief Business Officer Raymond Brown said the deal will cost the school system several million dollars, but he declined to disclose the specific amount because of ongoing negotiations with other private owners for another half-acre nearby.

The agreement calls for the VFW to provide 13.84 acres and the YMCA, eight acres. In return, the school system will build and maintain playing fields that the YMCA can use after school hours, along with 100 parking spaces . The YMCA said it would use money from the sale to expand its facility to offer a pool, a gym and before- and after-school care.

The school, which has yet to be named, will be built to accommodate 788 students. It will likely draw from Hollifield Station, Northfield, St. John's Lane and Ilchester elementary schools, officials said.

Currently, elementary schools house about 650 students without additions or relocatable classrooms. The northeastern school will be the second in the county to be built at the larger size. A western elementary school slated to open next year was the first.

Land is particularly scarce in the crowded northeast. That area was projected to be nearly 600 students over capacity by 2007 without a new school. School officials said that they had been seeking a site since 1998 and had begun talks in earnest with the VFW and YMCA in 2003.

"We think this site is ideally suited," School Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said.

Columbia Most Congenial

Baltimore's loss is Columbia's gain.

Though the upcoming Miss USA pageant will take place at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on April 11, all the contestants will be staying at the Sheraton Columbia Hotel.

Baltimore did not have enough rooms to accommodate the throngs expected for the three weeks leading up to the live broadcast April 11.

Pageant organizers said they were told early on that Baltimore was hosting four other citywide conventions about the same time, so they started shopping around for hotels. They narrowed the field to about a dozen before deciding on the Sheraton.

"The contestants themselves will be traveling all over the state of Maryland to film and shoot, so it wasn't necessary that we stay in downtown Baltimore," said Mary Hilliard McMillan, director of marketing for the Miss Universe Organization, which produces the Miss USA pageant. "The most important thing to us is that the contestants stay together and that our security team feels they are safe."

John O'Sullivan, general manager of the Sheraton Columbia, said he's thrilled by the decision but added there will be "stresses and strains."

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