New Victory Villa Elementary welcomes first classes

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.