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Projects facilitate changes in school staff

November 27, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - In 2008, it is likely that at least four schools will be built at the same time in Washington County and others will soon undergo major renovations.

That's new territory for a school system in which the average age of a school building is more than 40 years.

In response to the upcoming projects and anticipated continued growth, a plan for reorganization of the facilities department of Washington County Public Schools recently was announced, said Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael.

"There was not sufficient staff available to really keep all of those projects moving and keep them on their timelines," he said.

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The four new schools expected to be complete or nearing completion by fall 2008 are Pangborn, Westfields and Maugansville elementary schools, and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

A decision was made to divide the facilities department into two parts: facilities planning and development, and maintenance and operations, officials said.

"With the impact of growth and the need to manage aging schools, we must increase our capacity in the facilities area," Michael said. "By reorganizing existing staff and reallocating some positions, we can improve our efforts and deliver better service to our schools."

Facilities planning and development staff will oversee new construction, renovations and major projects. School maintenance and operations staff will oversee small projects, maintenance and daily operations.

Each department will be managed by its own director, who will report directly to Michael.

Mike Markoe, assistant to the superintendent, said the reorganization addresses the "super growth" occurring in Washington County and also will help address needs of the school system's aging facilities.

After the new buildings are completed, maintenance will be dealing with additional square footage.

"That's more to manage," Michael said. "And then as buildings continue to get older, there's that much more to do to keep those up and running."

He said the reorganization of the facilities department not only will help with the four new school construction projects, but also with a wave of upcoming projects.

These include a new Eastern Primary school, a new Antietam Academy and additions to Fountain Rock Elementary School.

"We're going to be in a building phase for a long while," he said. "Now, it would appear that we're going to be in a constant building phase for several years in a row, if not indefinitely at this point."

Michael said some additional staff will be hired to accommodate the reorganization.

The director of school maintenance and operations position has been created by upgrading the position of supervisor of school maintenance and operations. A support position and two project managers will be added to the facilities planning and development department by reallocating current positions and resources.

He said all of these positions will be advertised within the next month, and he hopes to hire personnel by mid-December.

"The fall of 2008 will come quickly," Michael said. "I anticipate this will help us bring the schools in on time and on budget, and meet the instructional needs of the students and provide seat capacity in Washington County as we continue to grow."

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