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New schools, land included in board's capital budget request

August 10, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

karenh@herald-mail.com

A preliminary fiscal year 2007 Washington County Public Schools capital request asks the County Commissioners to help fund several major building projects and the purchase of land for new facilities.

Washington County Board of Education members agreed by a show of hands during a work session Tuesday to ask for 100 percent of money deemed necessary to fund capital projects in fiscal year 2007.

The projects outlined by the preliminary request include the construction of Westfields Elementary School, the replacement of Maugansville Elementary School and the renovation of Pangborn Boulevard Elementary School. In all, the request is more than $51 million, including more than $25 million from the county.

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The total six-year proposed capital budget from fiscal years 2007-12 includes projects totaling $217 million.

The board plans to address the preliminary request at its next scheduled meeting Aug. 16. According to Chief Operating Officer William Blum, the school system must submit its capital improvement program application to the state by Oct. 7. Discussions with the commissioners typically begin in November, Blum said.

The Board of Education has not yet adopted a capital improvement program for fiscal year 2007. The commissioners' capital improvement program includes $12.6 million for the schools this fiscal year.

Board member W. Edward Forrest encouraged board members to let the commissioners determine the level of funding they can deliver for the school system.

"We can't address growth in a new area and ignore everything else. There has to be a balance there," Forrest said.

According to Blum, the school system previously completed one major renovation every three years. Five major projects currently are in the pipeline, Blum said.

"We're under the gun in terms of volume right now," Blum told the board.

Blum said the school system must find land in the county's southeast quadrant to relieve potential overcrowding at North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown and Boonsboro high schools. According to Blum, a 60-acre tract of land near Eastern Elementary School can accommodate a new elementary school. The school system will need land to build a new high school, Blum said.

According to Blum, much of the increase in funding would go toward maintenance. School staff is working to identify the life spans of various building components, such as electrical and plumbing systems, so the system can begin plotting a schedule of repairs and replacements, Blum said.

The school system previously had operated with a philosophy of "just-in-time maintenance," Blum said.

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