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Panel: Expand two schools

October 28, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A Washington County Board of Education committee decided Wednesday to recommend that a new Maugansville Elementary School be constructed larger than planned and that an expansion of Salem Avenue Elementary School be more extensive than proposed.

The school board's Facility Committee will recommend the changes to the full school board as a way to address a growing enrollment.

William Blum, the school system's chief operating officer, encouraged the expanded construction plans. He said if the recommendations were accepted, Salem Avenue Elementary School and the new Maugansville Elementary School each would have six more classrooms than initially planned.

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The school board is scheduled to discuss the recommended changes at a work session on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 9 a.m. Blum wants the school board to vote on the proposed program on that day.

The existing plan is to build Maugansville Elementary School with a capacity for 628 students at a cost of $14 million, Blum said. Under the proposed change, Maugansville Elementary would, when constructed, hold 775 students, and the construction cost would increase to about $20 million, he said.

A new Maugansville school is scheduled to open in late 2006, Facilities Director Rodney Turnbough has said.

Under the existing renovation and expansion plan, Salem Avenue Elementary would have room for 638 students when work is completed, Blum said. But that would mean the school might reach capacity in a few years as two planned residential developments are completed, he said.

Blum and Turnbough suggest that Salem Avenue elementary undergo a greater expansion to make room for 785 students.

That would increase the cost of the project from $11.9 million to $13 million, Turnbough said.

Adding more classrooms to the expansion should only take a few additional months, he said. Under the existing plan, the work was scheduled to be finished by the fall of 2005, Turnbough said.

If Salem Avenue Elementary is expanded to accommodate 785 students, it would be the largest elementary school in the school system, school board Vice President Roxanne Ober said. Ober and board members Russell Williams and Paul Bailey are on the Facility Committee and attended Wednesday's meeting.

Blum said other changes also are needed because enrollment this school year was higher than projected and is expected to grow again by next fall.

Blum said the idea for expanding Salem Avenue beyond what was planned arose during an Oct. 19 joint meeting with the Washington County Commissioners.

Since the commissioners expressed interest in the idea, Blum said, it is "presumably on their own nickel."

But the County Commissioners are not necessarily promising to pay for the expansions, Commissioner William J. Wivell and County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

"I think it is premature to assume that," Wivell said.

Shoop said the commissioners understand the need to address growth but no promises were made.

At an Oct. 5 meeting, Blum and Turnbough recommended the board adopt a more aggressive capital improvement program that, among other things, would call for building two new elementary schools and a new high school. Conococheague Elementary School, which was scheduled to close in 2006, might remain open but that has not been decided, Blum said.

The proposed six-year capital improvement program would be $171.9 million, up from the current six-year program of about $60 million, Blum said.

At Blum's request, the Facilities Committee also recommended the board adopt the increased capital improvement program budget.

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