Clear Spring school scrambles for funds

January 22, 1998


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - No one has to tell Clear Spring Elementary School Principal Jill Burkhart where to find the fuse box in the 44-year-old building.

She has experience with that particular piece of equipment because it's not unusual for the circuit breakers protecting the school's aging electrical system to trip.

Then there's the fact the school has 407 students, 38 more than the state-rated capacity of 369. Three portable classrooms are full and a fourth one is on the way, Burkhart said.


"It just doesn't accommodate the number of students we have now," Burkhart said Thursday before she and other officials asked the Maryland Board of Public Works to include a $4 million renovation of Clear Spring Elementary on a list of school construction projects.

Clear Spring has its original Eisenhower-era floors, plumbing and wiring, and many of the windows and much of the furniture have been there since the school was built.

The school has no air conditioning. There is no gymnasium, which means physical education classes can't be held until after lunch, when the cafeteria is available.

The music teacher's "office" is a 4-by-6 closet, Burkhart said.

B. Marie Byers, vice president of the Washington County Board of Education, told the Board of Public Works that the building has been well-maintained, but needs an overhaul.

"We're good stewards of our schools. However, it does need to be educationally updated and we do ask for your support," she said.

The Interagency Committee on School Construction has approved nearly $4.5 million for county school improvement projects for next year. Most of that will be spent on major renovation work at South Hagerstown High School. Work on South High is expected to begin in July.

But the state agency turned down school officials' request for $146,000 in state funds for an air conditioning system at Williamsport High School and planning approval for the Clear Spring project. Planning approval typically means the state will provide funding in future years.

If the Clear Spring project is approved, the state likely would pay about $2.2 million of the cost, with the rest coming from the county, said Dennis McGee, director of facilities management for the school board. The earliest the renovation could start would be July, 1999.

The Board of Public Works won't make a decision on Clear Spring, Williamsport and other requests until May. But with a proposed $222 million being budgeted for school construction and renovation statewide next year, some county officials are optimistic about their chances.

"We want a piece of the that money," McGee said.

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