Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. warned school board members that Towson High School’s historic landmark status may curtail their plans to replace the building, even as preservationists differed on how the project should move forward.
Olszewski sent a letter to the school system’s elected leaders, cautioning that “no plans for a new building at Towson can proceed without first having the issue of historical designation resolved.”
The county executive delivered the letter Friday, days after school board members narrowly passed a budget plan calling for total replacements of both Towson and Dulaney high schools.
Whether to renovate or replace the two overcrowded, aging schools has long provoked competition for funding among Baltimore County communities and the elected officials who represent them. Those who favor renovation say it is the most equitable decision, freeing up funds to complete projects at more than 40 other schools across the county. Advocates for replacement say it is the common sense decision for the Towson and Dulaney communities that have waited years for their turn to construct new 21st century school buildings.
Olszewski’s letter to the school board signals his support for renovation, which came at the recommendation of an outside consultant. The school system and county hired consulting firm CannonDesign to develop a plan for school construction over the next 15 years with an emphasis on spreading limited local and state funds across Baltimore County.
“Towson High School’s landmark designation protects the entire exterior of the historic portion of the building, not just the front facade as some have suggested,” Olszewski said in the letter. “As a result, completely replacing the original 1949 structure would first require the building to be removed from the landmarks list.”