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Firm to perfom study of planned school

July 13, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools could learn in October what work needs to be done on a building donated to house a new school of the arts in Hagerstown.

The Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve a contract with Cho Benn Holback + Associates Inc. of Baltimore to perform a feasibility study of the former Henry's Theater at 9-11 S. Potomac St.

"This is a really critical piece of information about whether this is going to work or not," Board Vice President Jacqueline Fischer said after the meeting.

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Hagerstown property owner Vincent Groh donated the building to the school system in March 2003. He asked that it be named the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in honor of his late wife.

Director of Facilities Management Rodney Turnbough said he believed the building could be "a little small for our program requirements."

The building is at least 98 years old.

"We'd like to think that because it's in a historic district - downtown - that we would at least be able to use some of the historical features," Turnbough said.

According to Board President Paul Bailey, the board was forced to vote on the feasibility study after it discovered board policy invalidated a previous agreement with the same company.

Bailey said since the board first agreed to a feasibility study in January, "it has slowed things down a little bit."

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said she believes the school for visual and performing arts could accommodate between 200 and 250 students in grades 9 to 12.

"We're so excited because I think first of all, this will give yet another option to kids who are very talented, in this case, very talented in the arts," Morgan said.

Fischer said she believes the building's size could restrict the number of students who could attend class at one time.

According to the new agreement, Cho Benn Holback also will provide schematic designs for the school.

The agreement will cost $110,845, which will be paid by grants.

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