Officials make case for South High project

January 23, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - South Hagerstown High School is cold in the winter and hot in the spring and fall.

It has no insulation in its walls. Pipes are buried in concrete and corroding. And trips on the information superhighway would run out of gas on the school's archaic wiring system.

"It is a school ideal for Bermuda. Unfortunately, we don't have Bermuda-style weather in Hagerstown," Mayor Steven T. Sager told the state Board of Public Works Wednesday.

Sager joined a group of 20 area representatives who asked the board to give planning approval for a $12.75 million renovation of South High.


The delegation, which included Washington County Commissioners, Board of Education members, parents of students at the school and each of the county's eight legislators in the General Assembly, was one of the largest to appear before the panel during an afternoon of school funding appeals.

"Who's left in Washington County?" joked Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a member of the public works board.

The problem with South High, the group told the board, is not neglect, but age. The 40-year-old school is the county's oldest and has never had a comprehensive renovation.

"The school is pretty similar today as when I walked the halls 30 years ago," said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, a 1967 South High graduate.

The South High project was turned down last year by the state Interagency Committee on School Construction and was not included in Glendening's budget.

That was a blow to someone like John Schnebly, who has a son attending South High and who is a member of REBS - Citizens for the Revitalization of Educational Benefits at South End Schools. The organization, a group of about 100 South End families, has being publicizing the need for the South High renovation.

"We use the term `functionally obsolete,'" said Schnebly, a 1967 graduate of the school, when describing the current condition of the school.

Supporters said the South High plan is in keeping with Glendening's goal of ensuring that the state's oldest schools are as good as the newest ones.

"This fits right in with one of his goals. So that's one of the reasons we are somewhat optimistic with the project," said Richard L. Martin, principal of South High and a 1963 graduate of the school.

If the county's appeal for planning approval is granted when the board makes its decisions in May, that could result in $7.3 million in state funds being made available for the South High project.

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