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Proposal would give more schools net access

January 19, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Gov. Parris Glendening's plan to spend a record amount of money on education may help wire more Washington County Schools, but it won't build any new ones.

The governor's budget proposal includes $3 billion for education and will boost school construction around the state. The Washington County Board of Education already has received approval for the five projects it submitted.

But supplementing the state's capital improvement plan will enable the school system to improve Internet access at four more schools.

"It's going to mean some more technology wiring projects," said Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee, who planned to install wiring at Boonsboro and Eastern elementary schools.

The state is increasing its funding share from 40 percent to 85 percent of the cost, he said. The wiring will cost the School Board $30,000 instead of $120,000, according to McGee.

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With the state's encouragement, he plans to use the leftover $90,000 on wiring projects at four other schools, which have not yet been determined. Overall, the state may increase its spending on wiring projects from $80,000 to $270,000, according to McGee.

"We're going to make out very nicely," he said.

The state distributes funds to build and renovate schools through the Interagency Committee on School Construction. Maryland pays a portion of each project based on factors such as the county's overall wealth.

The Washington County Commissioners have agreed to contribute $3.7 million for school construction projects in the next budget year.

McGee requested funds from the IAC for wiring at Boonsboro and Eastern, a chiller tower at Springfield Middle School and the second phase of renovations at South Hagerstown High School.

He also asked for money to plan renovations at Williamsport Elementary School. The state approved all five requests last month, before the governor submitted his budget.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr.'s $119 million budget proposal includes $53.1 million in state revenue. The amount is an estimate of what the county expects to receive for its school system.

The governor's budget includes $56.6 million for primary and secondary education, but Bartlett said that may include several other items. He said he doesn't expect a windfall from the state.

"We believe we've got a good estimate," he said Wednesday.

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