School master plan requires balancing act

June 06, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

The list of new schools and major building projects in Washington County's future will require balancing the school system's needs with available money.

School officials discussed a draft document during a Tuesday work session that addresses that balancing act. The educational facilities master plan is amended and adopted each year. It is the document on which some funding requests are based.

A draft of the plan includes major school building, construction and modernization projects for the next 13 years.

Replacement schools at Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools, and a new Rockland Woods Elementary School in the Westfields housing development are included in the draft document. A new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts also is included and is listed as opening in January 2009, according to the draft document.

The draft educational facilities master plan will be presented to the Board of Education June 19 for adoption. It will be presented to state officials for adoption by June 30, said Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael.


Michael said the facilities master plan often includes new school building projects that are slated for areas of the county where there is an anticipated need.

Robert Spong, facilities planner, said the area's housing market and growth can often dictate those decisions.

According to the draft document, a new Eastern Primary School will open in 2010. Two years later, officials hope to open an East City High School. Additions at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, a replacement for Bester Elementary and a new South County Elementary also are planned.

Board members Ruth Anne Callaham and Bernadette Wagner said that while officials should provide for growth in the community, the school system must also provide for the students already in the county's schools.

From 2016 to 2020, school officials are planning modernization projects at several schools, including Potomac Heights, Greenbrier, Sharpsburg, Fountaindale, Funkstown and Cascade elementary schools.

A cafeteria at Fountain Rock Elementary School is scheduled to be complete in August 2009, according to the draft. This project, and a new Antietam Academy scheduled to be complete in 2010, are not currently funded in the county's budget.

Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Instruction JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown said that Fountain Rock is the only school without a dedicated cafeteria. Beginning next year, the school will begin sending students to the gymnasium for lunch, a practice already in place at some other schools, like Funkstown and Conococheague, she said.

Board Vice President Wayne D. Ridenour said that he would like to see how that plan works at Fountain Rock before committing any more money for a cafeteria for that school.

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