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New Maugansville school may be built

July 21, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The Washington County Board of Education may build a new Maugansville Elementary School rather than renovate the existing structure, part of which is 63 years old.

The School Board is using money set aside for Maugansville to pay for the renovation of Clear Spring Elementary School. Bids for the Clear Spring project came in $250,000 over budget and the Washington County Commissioners turned down a request for the extra money last week.

On Tuesday, the board moved the money within its capital improvement plan from fiscal 2003 to this year. Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee asked the board to rethink plans to renovate Maugansville because of its age.

"I'm uncomfortable renovating any of it," McGee told the board. He said it will be cheaper to replace the building, the original part of which was built in 1936. "I want to slow this project down until we get it right," he said.

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Development in the Maugansville area indicates a growth spurt, according to McGee. "There are significant jobs in the I-81 corridor," and retail expansion west of the interstate is changing the area's dynamics, he said.

When the brick Maugansville school opened, it served students in kindergarten through grade 12, McGee said. In 1955, the School Board built a six-classroom addition of metal panels and glass to serve elementary students.

The most recent addition, a wood structure, connected the other two parts of the school in 1967. Since then, the enrollment has increased to 365 in September 1998. The state-rated capacity is 332.

There is "significant decay" in the original building, McGee said. The floors are pulling up and the basement floods when it rains. In 1995, part of the roof collapsed after a blizzard.

Air conditioning is limited to the front offices, media center, cafeteria and three classrooms. The school grounds have no land available for expansion and there is no roadway loop for buses, McGee said.

"It's time to start asking, 'is this the right site?"' he said.

The $250,000 earmarked for Maugansville in fiscal 2003 was money for the renovation design. The project was expected to cost $5 million and construction was planned for fiscal 2004. By that time, the original portion of the school would be 67 years old.

The state requires schools to be designed for 65 years of use. If the School Board built a new Maugansville Elementary, the county could use the old building for a library or community center, McGee said.

"I definitely agree it needs to be replaced," said Courtney Plume, president of the school's parent-teacher association.

Maugansville Principal Darlene Teach agreed. "I think the money would be more wisely spent building a new one," she said. "I just can't imagine trying to renovate this school."

The School Board will meet with the County Commissioners at Maugansville Elementary Aug. 10.

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