Snook: School for the Arts needs to go down priority list

December 10, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook told Washington County Board of Education officials on Tuesday that they need to bump the Hagerstown School for the Arts down their capital improvements list if they expect the county to consider funding the board's $10 million-a-year capital improvement request.

Meanwhile, the State of Maryland announced this week it is giving the City of Hagerstown a $20,000 grant for a feasibility study for the school.

During a Tuesday joint meeting with the County Commissioners and the Hagerstown City Council, Dennis McGee, the school system's director of facilities management, presented the School Board's plan through fiscal year 2013 for renovations and construction projects. The plan placed the renovation of Salem Avenue Elementary School and the consolidation of Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools at the top of the list.


McGee told Snook that the School for the Arts, which is slated under the plan to begin construction in fiscal year 2008, is a "filler" project that he expects will be paid for with some charter school and government funding.

"How do you evaluate the School for the Arts above other schools?" Snook asked McGee.

The plan listed the arts school above some other school projects, including building an Eastern Primary School to address population spurts in the east end of town, an addition to Emma K. Doub Elementary School and renovating Bester Elementary School.

"It (the School for the Arts) needs to be more to the bottom of the list," Snook said.

He said county officials will look over the School Board's requests and respond as soon as possible.

Later, in a separate, regular work session, the Hagerstown City Council discussed the donation of the property that would be used for the school.

In March, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner announced Hagerstown property owner Vincent Groh was donating the former Henry's Theater to the city for the Board of Education's use as the magnet school for the arts.

Henry's Theater became a cinema in 1906 and closed as a movie theater around 1980, according to the Washington County Historical Society. The building then housed a dinner theater.

The council is scheduled to vote at its Dec. 16 regular meeting on an ordinance making official the donation of the property.

The old theater building, at 9-11 S. Potomac St., is being used by a boxing club.

The property is in the city's Arts and Entertainment District.

About three years ago, a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce committee proposed having a $10 million Visual & Performing Arts Center for downtown Hagerstown.

In addition to the $20,000 state grant, the state also announced it was giving a $50,000 grant to the city to help fund the Arts Center.

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