New $26M Elementary Opens in Bel Air - NBC4 Washington
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New $26M Elementary Opens in Bel Air

School built to ease student crunch



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    Red Pump isn't the little red school house of yore, as its name might suggest. The $26 million facility is equipped with the latest technology, and plenty of it.

    Harford County, Md., opened the doors to its first elementary school in a decade on Wednesday. Red Pump Elementary School -- a sprawling 23-acre facility -- was built to alleviate the school district's well-documented pupil jam. 

    Before opening the school, district officials had to engage in a political chess game of sorts. A county law entangling new development with school capacity had set off a general building moratorium in Bel Air until the overcrowding could be taken care of. 

    To start, the people who run Red Pump completed a redistricting process to lift the moratorium and to balance enrollments among area schools.

    Then, there was the question of where the school would be located. School officials pushed for  Harford Community College, while the Harford County Council favored Red Pump Road in Bel Air.

    In the end, the council's choice won out and the redistricting process was a success. Construction in the area has rebounded and no Bel Air school is enrolled above capacity.

    In fact, Red Pump opens with about 100 students short of its 700-seat capacity. While the incoming students were still enrolled at other schools, Red Pump's Principal Blaine Hawley met with them, showing them slides detailing their new school's construction, according to the Baltimore Sun.

    "This school was truly designed with children in mind," Hawley told the Sun. "The architects got it all right, right here."

    Red Pump is not the little red school house its name might suggest. The $26 million project boasts an outdoor classroom, three playgrounds, a multi-tiered computer lab and a TV studio.

    Three wings of classrooms -- color-coded to help students navigate its halls -- spread out from the single-story building's core area, which is awash in the school's signature red. Each classroom has interactive whiteboards, four computers, classroom document cameras, and a television.

    The first day of school Monday at Red Pump Elementary was postponed to Wednesday on account of Hurricane Irene. Wednesday's first day of instruction reportedly went off without any major problems. Eleven county schools remain closed until Thursday because of power outages and road blockages caused by Irene.

    Education officials are reportedly planning another elementary school on a site south of Red Pump. The project has not yet received funding.