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Elementary school could soon have cafeteria

September 25, 2006|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

It wasn't a big deal when Adam Lewis went to school at Fountain Rock Elementary School in the 1970s.

The school just recently had been built, and the absence of a cafeteria didn't matter to the students, he said."I never realized that missing a cafeteria was that big of a deal," Lewis said.

Now, Lewis' two daughters are students there, and it is a big deal. Because enrollment has increased at the school, students are carrying their lunch trays to classrooms in and outside of the building.

"Right now, students have to carry their lunch trays out (to portable classrooms)," Lewis said. "Then, you have weather issues. There are some concerns too, about sicknesses spreading."

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The project will be included this year in the school system's capital improvement program for a funding request in fiscal year 2009. It was set for a funding request in fiscal year 2014 before an amendment to the capital improvement program by the Board of Education last week.

Funding for a cafeteria at Fountain Rock has been moved on and off a capital improvement program budget since about 1997. The project's history has Lewis and others unsure whether it will happen this time.

Lori Hare, PTA president at Fountain Rock, said she was pleased the decision was made to move up funding but wishes the facility improvements would happen before 2009.

"Who's to say we won't get pushed back off it again when the time comes around?" she said. "I was hoping it would be a lot closer. I would have been happier if they said next year."

Lewis is chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council at Fountain Rock, which was mostly inactive until last year. The issue of a cafeteria at Fountain Rock was so important to parents, they decided to form a subcommittee dedicated to the issue earlier this year.

"I really think if we hadn't formed that subcommittee, we wouldn't be where we are now," Hare said. "We would have still fallen by the wayside."

Hare was chairman of the subcommittee, and is still a member of the subcommittee and Citizens Advisory Council.

Principal Archibald Van Norden said the community was pleased the request was included in fiscal year 2009, instead of 2014.

Board President W. Edward Forrest said the board agreed it was time the project was completed.

"The need has been recognized for a long time," he said. "I think as the county has grown and in the past, maintenance and upgrades just weren't taken care of when they should have been."

Along with a cafeteria, a kitchen and storage will be included in the project, expected to cost about $5 million, said Rodney Turnbough, director of facilities management.

"(The Citizens Advisory Council) has been very forthright in stating its concern," Van Norden said. "I think they made their case for a new cafeteria to the (Board of Education) and the board reacted."

Lewis and Hare said their children might not be at Fountain Rock to see the cafeteria, but they will continue to advocate for one until construction begins.

"This is essential," Lewis said. "This isn't asking for upgrading lighting or a better track field," he said. "This is something that's going to provide students with a better learning environment."

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