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South High to get extra $400,000 for renovations

December 14, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The Washington County Commissioners decided Tuesday to spend an additional $400,000 next fiscal year to complete the renovation of South Hagerstown High School.

An architect's final estimate for the $18-million project's second phase were higher than expected, according to Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee. He said the first phase may be finished in April, six months ahead of schedule.

The County Commissioners and School Board held a joint meeting at Old Forge Elementary School Tuesday afternoon. McGee asked the commissioners to spend more on school construction.

The School Board wants the county to give $6.2 million annually from its capital improvement program. With the additional $400,000, the county's contribution will be about $4.1 million.

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That's still not enough to get a fair share of state matching funds, according to McGee.

Maryland's Interagency Committee on School Construction distributes money for school construction based partly on local contributions.

"We are not the only county that can't afford to match the state," said Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook. Changes in the state's funding formula could help smaller counties that can't spend as much as wealthier ones, he said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to increase funding for South High's second phase. "I don't think this group has any problem going forward with that," said Snook.

With the $400,000 increase, the county is budgeting $1.85 million toward the renovation in the budget year beginning July 1, 2000.

McGee said the first phase of South High's renovation cost $9.9 million. The next phase will cost $8.2 million and begin after July 1, he said. The state is paying about half the total cost.

The renovation's phase included some 45 classrooms and media center. The second phase involves areas such as the auditorium, gymnasium, music and technical education rooms.

The IAC recently decided to spend $4.6 million on the second phase, giving $2 million in July and $2.6 million the following year. McGee said he will ask the state to give both payments at a hearing Friday.

He also will appeal the IAC's decision to delay planning approval for Williamsport Elementary School's renovation. The initial $250,000 allows the School Board to hire an architect and draft plans for construction, which would begin July 1, 2001.

That project would add 11,000 square feet to the 40,000-square-foot school, increasing its capacity from 414 to 654, McGee said. The school has an enrollment of about 491 and uses portable classrooms.

The state deferred most planning requests and may fund them later in the year, according to McGee. If his request turned down Friday, he said he will appeal again to the Board of Public Works Jan. 26, 2000.

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