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Schools to receive bond funds

December 18, 2000

Schools to receive bond funds



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The Washington County Board of Education will receive $202,000 in capital improvement funds for fiscal year 2001 under a recently launched state bond program.

The program, called the Qualified Zone Academy Bond Program, will contribute $9.8 million statewide for school improvements. The state sells the bonds and repays the principal, allowing school systems to receive a portion of the money.

"...We will be able to sell those these bonds for the benefit of our students and teachers in order to improve the buildings in which they learn and teach," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening in a release.

Glendening kicked off the program last week.

Dennis McGee, the Board of Education's director of facilities management, said the money will be used for various maintenance projects in the school system's aging schools.

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"I'm looking forward to it," McGee said. "Anytime I can get $200,000 for maintenance is a real boost."

McGee plans to draft a list of projects and present it to the School Board next month.

To be eligible for the bond money, a school must be located in a district where at least 35 percent of the students qualify for Free and Reduced Meals, McGee said.

There are more than 550 in the state that qualify. About a dozen are eligible in Washington County, he said.

Among those schools are South Hagerstown High School, E. Russell Hicks Middle School, Western Heights Middle School and Salem Avenue, Lincolnshire and Winter Street elementary schools. About six more schools in the county will qualify.

The schools may receive a variety of work, including improvements for instructional programs, improvements to roofing, mechanical and electrical components, energy conservation projects and the painting or replacement of floors, according to the governor's office.

Local matching funds aren't required for the renovations, but contributions from the private business sector are.

McGee said the contributions must equal at least 10 percent of the bond money used for a project. For example, if the school system were to spend $90,000 on a project, a business would have to donate $9,000 toward equipment, training programs for teachers, mentoring activities for students or other in-kind contributions, he said.

"It's a unique program," McGee said. "Basically we'll be replacing things we really never had money for."

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