Schools getting millions in upgrades

July 06, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM


Students and teachers will be pleasantly surprised when they return to Washington County schools in August, said Boyd Michael III, assistant superintendent for school operations.

The county's public schools will receive $6.8 million in maintenance and upgrades over the summer, Michael said.

While some of this work will be behind the scenes, like new boilers and air conditioning units, also included among more than 140 summer projects are parking lot repairs, carpet replacement and new offices.

Some projects already have been completed. Others might not be completed until after the school year begins.

"The main difference between this summer and last summer is just how much more we are doing this year," Michael said.


Last year, Washington County Public Schools received $1.4 million in upgrades and maintenance, he said.

Additional funding at the state and county levels helped the school system increase the number of projects it will complete in the next few months.

"They put a high priority on providing adequate facilities for students," he said.

Michael said the funding was necessary to help the county catch up on projects that have been needed.

"We still have many projects, probably $88 (million) to $90 million in projects, that are backlogged," he said.

The most costly project this summer will be the removal of asbestos tile and the replacement of lights at Williamsport High School.

The school's lighting system needed to be replaced and improved, Michael said. That could not be done without disturbing the school's ceiling tiles, which are made of asbestos.

Those tiles will be removed as part of a project that will cost nearly $1 million.

The construction of a fenced lot across from Williamsport Elementary School for a bus depot is also on the list of summer projects.

Michael said that because the school system received complaints from area residents, the depot project has been put on hold.

"We're looking for alternate lots and additional solutions," he said.

A bid received for the fencing was about $10,000.

At some schools, open space is being turned into additional classrooms using partitions, Michael said.

"We can change something once used for something else and turn it into some additional classroom space," he said. "The goal is to get everything up and ready before school begins."

The Herald-Mail Articles