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BOE plan includes funds for new schools

September 19, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - New schools, renovations and additions are among about 20 funding requests expected to be voted on today by the Washington County Board of Education.

The proposed fiscal year 2008 capital improvement program for the school system is a request for funding from the state that totals about $20 million.

The requests, including new schools, building additions and renovations, are primarily responses to countywide growth and anticipated overcrowding through 2013, said Rod Turnbough, director of facilities management. He said new school needs are based on school capacity numbers dictated by the state and enrollment projections.

After board approval of the capital improvement program, he said the proposal goes before state officials. School officials should know by April 2007 how much state funding will be received, Turnbough said.

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In the fiscal year 2007 capital improvement program budget, Turnbough said the school system received about $4.5 million of the more than $21 million it requested.

Spokeswoman Carol Mowen said staff members were directed years ago to make requests to the state that match what the county's needs are, not just items certain to be funded.

Turnbough said the requests reflect the county's current and anticipated needs.

"Based on our enrollment projections, these are needs," he said.

Turnbough said the school system's needs have increased over the years, and the state's funding commitments have remained largely the same.

In the 2007 fiscal year request to the state, school officials requested money for planning and funding of Pangborn and Westfields elementary schools. Turnbough said that only the planning of Pangborn was funded.

On the proposed fiscal year 2008 request, money for funding Pangborn and planning and funding of Westfields again are requested.

Pangborn and Westfields have been tentatively set to open in 2008. Turnbough said that if funding is denied this year for those projects, that date will be moved back.

A sprinkler system at Hancock Middle-Senior High School is another repeat request.

The following is a list of some of the funding requests in the proposed fiscal year 2008 capital improvement program:

· Pangborn Boulevard Elementary School: School officials requested about $9 million from the state for construction of a new Pangborn Elementary to replace the existing building. The total cost of the project has been estimated at about $22 million. Design plans on the new 84,000-square-foot school were approved by the board in June.

· Westfields Elementary School: The proposed capital improvement program requests $10.2 million for construction on a new elementary school in the Westfields development on Sharpsburg Pike. The school will have about 400 students from the Westfields, Claggetts Mill and Carriage Hill subdivisions, and will relieve overcrowding in at least three other schools. The total cost of the project has been estimated at about $25 million.

· Eastern Primary: The new primary school would house grades pre-kindergarten through second grade and serve as a sister school to the existing Eastern Elementary. School officials are expected to request about $13 million in state funds through fiscal year 2011. If approved, construction on the school could begin as soon as 2009, with an opening in 2011.

· Antietam Academy: The new alternative middle-high school would serve the entire county. The existing Antietam Academy is split between a building at South Hagerstown High School and the bottom floor of Western Heights Middle School. School officials are expected to request about $6 million in state funds through 2010 for the construction.

· East City High School: The new school would be at or near the southeast corner of Hagerstown. About $30 million is expected to be requested through 2012 for planning and construction of the high school, which would have capacity for 1,200 students. This is expected to accommodate anticipated growth in that area and also ease enrollment numbers at South Hagerstown, North Hagerstown, Boonsboro and Smithsburg high schools.

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