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County growth puts strain on school system

September 07, 2005|by KAREN HANNA
(Page 2 of 2)

The proposed construction - the system's capital improvement program calls for building at least four new schools in the next five years - won't immediately address the space needs confronting the system's students, said Karen Reilly, the mother of a Boonsboro Middle School student.

Reilly's son is a sixth-grader at Boonsboro Middle, where the first lunch of the eight-period day is served at 10:30 a.m. Reilly, a member of the Washington County Board of Education's facilities enrollment committee, said that adding portable classrooms - the system now has 67 - is only an imperfect fix.

"But again, the wall that you run into, yeah, you can have portables up the ying-yang, you can put portables on the soccer field or wherever, but first of all ... the portables don't have bathrooms. But more importantly, you have to bring the kids through the cafeteria for lunch," Reilly said.

Green said he opted to build plywood walls in Boonsboro High's open-space areas and move lockers to make room for classrooms and save money. In one area, only thin fabric and a metal divider and bookcase separate students in a Spanish class from those in a U.S. history class.

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Green called Boonsboro's High open-space design "a disaster," and said even portable classrooms would be better. But there is one problem.

"These babies are about $90,000 a piece," Green said outside one of the school's two portables.

Next year, Green said, the school might need to create a classroom in the media center. With little space left, the school offers teachers no guarantee they'll get rooms of their own. Seven teachers use carts to move their materials from room to room, he said.

Green said students and teachers have adapted well to the changes and have been positive about a faulty air-conditioning system that has left some rooms cold with temperatures in the 50s and others sweltering as temperatures climb into the 80s.

The school is "bursting at the seams," Green said.

"At the present rate of kids that this school is getting, let's face it, by next year, this school won't hold," he said.

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