ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced $22 million in funding to renovate Faulkner Ridge Center to expand universal pre-K services. Ball’s investment, in partnership with State, County, and community leaders, is a major step toward the full implementation of the State-mandated Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. When completed, the center will create 260 new seats for universal Pre-K. Photos from the event can be found here.
Howard County is known for its world-class school system, due to our collective efforts to create the best teaching and learning environment for all our students and educators. We know that the success of our students starts early with a strong educational foundation for our youngest learners. By expanding pre-K access for 3-and 4-year-olds, all our children will have more opportunity to begin kindergarten ready to learn.
The Faulkner Ridge Center was acquired by the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) in 1968 as Faulkner Ridge Elementary School. The school closed and the building was repurposed in 1983, with a full vacancy occurring in 2011. Ball’s funding in his proposed FY24 Capital Budget will allow the building to be renovated, revitalized, and reopened.
This is a building I pass every day on my commute to and from work. I have spent significant time considering the best way to use this valuable space and have always considered it a prime location to serve our youngest learners. Understanding the reality that learning begins at birth, we must continually implement and expand efforts to serve children even before they arrive in kindergarten. I appreciate the collaboration with County Executive Ball and Senator Guzzone to facilitate the Pass-Through Grant funding that makes this project possible.
"On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the Superintendent and County Executive for their partnership, collaboration, and foresight to rejuvenate this space into one that will benefit so many of our youngest learners and families," said Jennifer Mallo, Board of Education Member. "I can already envision this as a healthy space full of laughter and joy where children listen to beautiful stories and learn to love learning."
Ball’s allocation is part of the $35 million in state pass-through grant funding that was awarded to Howard County by the Maryland General Assembly in 2022. The pass-through funding is unique in that it requires no local matching funds.
“Today we are celebrating an investment in an equitable future where we leave no one behind. We know a child’s early years are the most critical period for brain development and can set the foundation for lifelong learning and achievement,” said Senator Katie Fry Hester. “The Howard County State Delegation strongly supports the county’s plans for the expansion of Pre-K at the Faulkner Ridge Center.”
“We know that the earliest investments in education are the most impactful investments in education,” said State Delegate Jessica Feldmark. “I am grateful to be a partner in providing the funding to make this pre-K center a reality, as it is such an important step forward towards equity in educational success.”
“Having been involved in early childhood education for many years, I’m thrilled the Faulkner Ridge Center will become a regional Pre-K center for our youngest learners,” said Delegate Pam Guzzone.
"Expanding prekindergarten access to children near Faulkner Ridge will increase equity in education, housing, healthcare, employment, and more in Howard County," said Christiana Rigby, Chair of the Howard County Council.
“Great news, Wilde Lake! It is finally happening,” said Councilmember Deb Jung. “The Faulkner Ridge Center is returning to public service as a prekindergarten for our early learners. I am so thankful to the County Executive for his investment in this community asset and to the Howard County State Delegation for securing such a generous grant.”
When fully implemented in FY32, all 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds from low-income households will be able to attend for free, while all 4-year-olds who wish to attend must be enrolled as soon as FY26. The plan follows the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a state mandated education reform bill that was passed in 2020 by the state legislature. The bill calls for early education funding and a phase-in of universal pre-K.
In addition to expanding pre-K, the Blueprint will improve student readiness for kindergarten, increase the number of high-quality early education providers, expand family supports, and fully fund the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program. Howard County is currently ahead of most jurisdictions in fulfilling the requirements of the Blueprint.
“It's a great day in vibrant Wilde Lake! Thank you, Dr. Ball, our State Delegation, Dr. Martirano, our County Council, HCPSS Board Members, residents and leaders of the Faulkner Station Homeowners Association, and the students, parents, and advocates for the neighborhoods and schools that will be impacted positively by this innovative approach to educating at the Faulkner Ridge Regional Early Childhood Learning Center,” said Kevin McAliley, Chair of the Wilde Lake Village Board. “We look forward to continuing as collaborating community partners and liaisons as the project moves through the next steps so we can celebrate students as they arrive at this wonderful facility for their first day of learning.”
Tina Horn, a member of the Wilde Lake Village Board agrees. “So excited for this new work in vibrant Wilde Lake! The Faulkner Station neighbors have been working hard to make the Faulkner Ridge Center serve our communities again and this will be an important step forward,” said Horn. “Much gratitude to the County Executive, elected and volunteer leadership who have worked so hard.”