Baltimore County breaks ground on Maryland’s first net-zero elementary school
A vacant field right next to the current Deer Park Elementary School in Baltimore County will transform into Maryland’s first net-zero elementary school by 2025.
County and state leaders joined Deer Park students and staff to break ground on the $70.6-million-dollar project on Monday morning, wearing white and yellow construction hats to mark the occasion.
Superintendent Myriam Rogers said the new school will serve as a leading example for state environmental efforts, by producing and saving as much – or more – energy than it uses each year.
“You will see solar paneling on the roof, geothermal heating in the boiler room, smart technology that monitors when lights are on and off and when electric plugs can be used,” Rogers said. “I’m especially interested in seeing the school's light tubes, which will be used to import natural sunlight to use in classrooms instead of artificial lighting.”
Three other net-zero schools exist in Maryland. Two serve kindergarten through eighth grade students in Baltimore City. Wilde Lake Middle School in Howard County became the first net-zero school constructed in the state in 2017.
The new Deer Park school will also alleviate enrollment pressures in a rapidly-growing community, Rogers said.
“Even as the neighborhoods grew and grew and grew, the original Deer Park Elementary School building has served generation after generation of children,” Rogers said. “Sixty-three years after Deer Park's doors opened to students, a new Deer Park Elementary begins to rise. We know that it will pay dividends for the students of our county for decades to come.”
The new building will expand school capacity from 431 to 735 seats, and add more than 40 thousand square feet.
Principal Renee Jenkins said the new school will usher in a brighter atmosphere for students, both physically and mentally.
“It's time to say goodbye as we say hello to a new home, spacious and light-filled, a building that will enable us to grow for years to come,” she said. “Our new school classrooms will be brighter and roomier, technology will be state-of-the-art, and school security and safety will be enhanced.”
This new building is part of a larger county effort to reduce over enrollment in northwest and central regions of Baltimore County, local leaders said.
Rogers said with every new school added, like replacements for Bedford and Summit Park elementary schools, she sees “students and staff energized, neighborhoods revitalized, and student performance increase.”
County Executive Johnny Olszewski said these “transformative school spaces” are for the students first and foremost.
“You all deserve this building that’s coming,” he said to the gathered Deer Park students. “And I hope that you all enjoy it.”