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County says plan to build three new schools by 2008 a priority

January 17, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with plans to build a new Maugansville Elementary School despite some questions, saying that three schools scheduled to open in 2008 are their "highest priority."

Maugansville, Pangborn and Westfields elementary schools are scheduled to open in August 2008, officials have said.

Commissioners approved the advertisement of the construction job for Maugansville Elementary after the Board of Education receives approval from the state. Commissioner William J. Wivell abstained.

Wivell said he abstained because if he was building a house, he would like to know how much it was going to cost and how much money he had in the bank. He said in this case he did not know that information.

"I have serious concerns about all three of these schools coming on line," he said. "I think we're setting ourselves up for some really high bids, putting these all out at the same time."

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Wivell was not alone in voicing concerns about the timing. Officials said that putting all three projects out to bid in quick succession could give contractors less time to come up with accurate bids for each project and result in high bids.

An eight-member advisory committee for Maugansville Elementary School recommended that school officials receive bids for separate projects at least 30 days apart to encourage better participation from contractors, said Gary Rohrer, the county's director of public works and the committee's chairperson.

Board President Roxanne R. Ober said that is ideal, but the priority has to be the students.

"A delay (in accepting bids) could cause a delay for opening day," she said. "If we're tearing down structures, there won't be a place for kids to go on the opening day of school. The priority has to be opening day and having these projects complete at that time."

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