School plan for a crowd

School board, staff members discuss options

School board, staff members discuss options

June 13, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


Closing Cascade Elementary School, reopening the Job Development Center and expanding one elementary school to accommodate nearly 900 students are among the possibilities for Washington County Public Schools facilities.

The Board of Education and facilities staff members discussed some of the options during a work session Monday morning. According to projections, many areas of the system face serious overcrowding in the next few years.

A proposal for a new elementary school on the county's north side has joined a list of planned and proposed new schools. Construction of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts - a downtown high school magnet program - could be complete in 2008, the year the school system plans to open Westfields, Pangborn and Maugansville elementary schools, Boyd Michael said.


A high school and elementary school to accommodate students on the east side of Hagerstown also are planned.

The board will vote on a draft facilities master plan at its next meeting, said Michael, who was named assistant superintendent of school operations in a recent administrative reshuffling.

Throughout the work session, Michael stressed that the projects identified by the master plan reflect a snapshot of current needs, and priorities and projects can change.

"Obviously, we've got a really good window with three elementary schools opening at once, that's going to be a really good time to look at restructuring," Michael said Monday afternoon after the meeting.

According to Facilities Planner Monika Jenkins, southern and northern parts of Hagerstown and the Boonsboro area face the most dramatic enrollment increases.

With the population stagnant and student enrollment hovering below 150, board member Roxanne R. Ober questioned why Cascade Elementary School would be scheduled for a roofing replacement.

She also questioned work at the Job Development Center, which, like Cascade, is among the facilities identified for future repairs in a needs summary included in the draft master plan.

Board member Wayne D. Ridenour suggested moving Cascade students to the nearby Job Development Center, while President W. Edward Forrest said the system could consider building an addition at Smithsburg Elementary School and moving the Cascade students there.

Facilities Management Director Rodney Turnbough said after the session that both the Job Development Center and Cascade will require work if the board intends to keep using them.

"We've got to protect the structure at this point," Turnbough said of the Job Development Center, which serves as a storage area.

School system staff are working with developers for assistance with space needs, Turnbough said.

According to Turnbough, the school system also could add space for seats when it completes work planned for Boonsboro and Bester elementary schools. The board must decide whether to renovate or replace Bester, he said.

A future addition to E. Russell Hicks Middle School would make it the biggest middle school in the county, he said.

While work on Boonsboro High School once was listed as a priority, projected overcrowding at the elementary school currently seems more pressing, Michael said.

If the school system is unable to build a new school in the Boonsboro area, Boonsboro Elementary School would become the biggest elementary school in the county, he said. It would have room for about 890 seats, he said.

Projects a possibility

At a work session Monday, Washington County Board of Education members discussed possible facilities projects and ways to accommodate projected increases in the number of students attending schools in certain areas. Among their ideas:

  • Reopen the Job Development Center, which serves as storage space.

  • Close Cascade Elementary School, where enrollment has hovered around 150 students and move the students to either the Job Development Center or Smithsburg Elementary School.

  • Create a fund of school system money available to outside groups wishing to take on a project, such as stadium renovations or library upgrades.

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