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Officials consider expanding Maugansville school

September 18, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Instead of building a new school to replace Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools, Washington County Public Schools officials said Tuesday they are considering expanding Maugansville Elementary.

Under that plan, Conococheague Elementary School would be closed and the students there would be moved to an expanded Maugansville Elementary by 2006 at the earliest, Dennis McGee, the School Board's director of facilities management said.

The projected cost of the Maugansville renovation is $13.7 million, according to the Washington County Board of Education's capital improvement plan for 2004-2008.

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The CIP, along with the school consolidation proposal, will go before the School Board for approval Oct. 1 before it reaches the state level in the fall, McGee said at the board's work session Tuesday.

He said the board is working to get formal approval so planning can begin.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the decision to combine the schools has been made informally.

Morgan said she's confident that state funding, which will be requested this fall for the Maugansville proposal, will be forthcoming.

McGee said 2004 would be the earliest that expansion work on the Maugansville school could begin.

He said that after looking at land northwest of Hagerstown, he discovered it would be hard to find the 15 to 20 acres that would be needed for a new building.

The expanded Maugansville school would be about the size of Eastern or Williamsport elementary schools, which have four classrooms per grade level, he said.

Although no plans have been finalized, he said he projects a combined school would have about 28 classrooms.

He wouldn't comment on the amount of available acreage on the Maugansville lot. The school system is performing a feasibility study to review options and is looking into buying land close to the school for the expansion, he said.

Both Maugansville and Conococheague, have school populations of about 280.

"It would be $1-$2 million cheaper to renovate one building than two," he said.

He said the state requires schools be placed in Smart Growth areas of the county, as Maugansville Elementary is.

"Maugansville is right on the line," he said. He said it might be more difficult to get funding for sites west of the elementary school.

McGee said keeping the elementary school at Maugansville would keep the school on city water and sewer.

"If you leave the school in Maugansville at least the people of Maugansville will be happy," he said.

McGee said there are some obstacles to building on the Maugansville site. He said, for instance, the elementary school was flooded in September 1996.

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