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Board of education approves design for school

June 21, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to OK schematic design and educational specifications for a visual and performing arts school in Hagerstown. The design was approved unanimously by the board with a 6-0 vote. Board member Paul W. Bailey was absent.

The Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, a four-year high school, is scheduled to open in fall 2008, said Roger Giles, director of funded and special programs. Students will take courses and have intensive training in visual arts, music, theater and dance.

The school will occupy and make use of several buildings in downtown Hagerstown, Giles said. One part of its campus will include 27,400 square feet in the former Henry's Theatre and Elks Lodge on Potomac Street.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $7.9 million, which was an increased figure announced at Tuesday's meeting. The cost previously had been estimated at $6.5 million.

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The cost increased due to the higher cost of steel, acng to George Holback with Cho Benn Holback + Associates.

Board members and Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said they were concerned by the amount of storage space in the facility.

"We tried to increase storage in each department where we could," Holback said. "Wherever we could tuck storage in, we did. The dilemma with the building is that it's tight. It's a choice between programmable room for students or storage."

Board member Wayne D. Ridenour said designers might be trying to do too much with too little space.

"This is less space than we have for (some) of our elementary schools," he said.

The designs approved Tuesday included a black-box theater - a flexible teaching-theater design - that will be on the first floor and basement level. One floor of the building will be devoted to each discipline.

Rooms devoted to music will be designed with acoustics and soundproofing in mind, Holback said.

The firm said it also was interested in keeping intact much of the historical value of the building, which is more than 100 years old.

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