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Schools to receive more state money for Pangborn Elementary

July 06, 2006|b ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Washington County Public Schools will receive an additional $400,000 in state funds for the construction of a new Pangborn Elementary School building.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the school system appealed a decision Wednesday by the state to fund only a renovation of the existing Pangborn Elementary School in Hagerstown.

"They never ever rejected our idea of a brand new school," she said. "The only thing that was in question was the funding for a new school."

Morgan, Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and others attended the appeal in Baltimore before the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction.

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Munson said the decision was unanimous in favor of giving the county money to build the new school.

"It's obviously a good thing for Washington County, and it fits in some sense with the strategy to continue raising education in Washington County to a higher level," Munson said.

In June, the Washington County Board of Education approved design plans for the new 84,000-square-foot Pangborn Elementary School. Construction was expected to begin in 2007 and the school was scheduled to open in fall 2008, Boyd Michael III, assistant superintendent for school operations, has said.

The cost of the school has been estimated at $18.7 million, according to school board documents.

Shank said the decision by the state to fund the new school will make construction less disruptive for students. While a new building is being constructed, students will occupy the existing building.

Morgan said when the state first looked at the project, officials decided that Washington County could "get away with" a renovated school. That prompted the decision to fund the project for renovations.

The decision Wednesday to fund the new school building means an additional $400,000 for Washington County Public Schools to cover construction costs, she said.

"We didn't want our kids to have two years of an interruption in their learning," Morgan said. "And I think that was a compelling argument."

Morgan said the school system decided it would proceed with building the new school even without the additional state funding, but was pleased the Board of Education and the Washington County Commissioners would not have to provide that money.

"Washington County is not a wealthy county as opposed to other counties," Morgan said. "Other counties were getting money for new schools, and we weren't. It's our turn now."

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