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School board agrees to ask for more money

April 06, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education agreed Tuesday to increase by more than $2 million its request to the Washington County Commissioners for capital improvement money.

The board voted 7-0 Tuesday night during its business meeting to approve a supplemental request for $2.7 million for 17 projects previously not listed in the capital improvement plan.

In a separate vote, the board agreed 4-3 to ask the commissioners for a total of $200,000 to help fund the North Hagerstown High School stadium project. That is $65,000 more than the board previously agreed to put toward the stadium project.

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The $2.7 million in maintenance projects and the stadium money is on top of the $24.6 million capital improvement request the school board previously presented the commissioners.

Facilities Management Director Rodney Turnbough told the school board that estimated costs for the new projects identified in the supplemental request range from $12,000 to $986,000.

An agenda item described the costs as "emergent project needs."

They included estimated costs of $986,000 to replace asbestos tiles at Williamsport High School, $300,000 to replace the cooling tower and chiller at Northern Middle School, $325,000 to bring the lighting at Hancock Elementary School up to minimum standards and $80,000 for lighting upgrades in the unrenovated sections of Boonsboro High School.

School board member Wayne Ridenour questioned whether the $80,000 would be enough to improve the lighting at Boonsboro High.

Chief Operating Officer William Blum said he intends to notify the County Commissioners as soon as possible about the new requests, so work can begin as early as this summer. He said the projects represent "substantial needs."

Blum said after the meeting that the Boonsboro High lighting request comes on top of money already tentatively allocated for carpeting upgrades.

"We're just going to hit the most critical areas now," Blum said after the meeting.

School board member Roxanne Ober said the board must address the maintenance needs.

"I did want to say it is with a sense of urgency that this go before the commissioners as soon as possible," Ober said.

School board members, who last month debated a motion for funding for the proposed stadium at North High, remained divided about the project.

School board member Bernadette Wagner called the motion a way of "showing good faith to the community."

The school board last month approved a revised motion for $135,000 for the project, after several members said they could not accept an original request of $200,000.

Wagner said that because of a procedural error, last month's initial request remained on the table. She amended the request to reflect the $135,000 the board already agreed to provide, and asked that board members agree to give $65,000 more.

School Board member Edward Forrest said he could not support more money for the stadium because he believes the schools have "more pressing concerns."

Ridenour and Vice President Jacqueline Fischer joined Forrest in voting against the motion.

The stadium committee of North High Boosters Club Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises money to support athletic activities, has received almost $1.5 million toward its goal of $2.3 million for a stadium.

According to the Mike Callas Stadium Web site, "the project is a $2.3-million private effort that has been endorsed by the Washington County Public Schools."

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