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Washington County schools working on state-mandated master plan

June 10, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County Public Schools is preparing its annual long-term look ahead, as required by the state of Maryland.

The school board on Monday reviewed a draft of its Educational Facilities Master Plan, a comprehensive look at various data as part of a guide for future construction and improvements.

The plan projects ahead about 10 years for school enrollment figures and looks even beyond that for capital projects.

Next week, the board is scheduled to approve its master plan, which must be sent to the state by the end of the month.

The most immediate projects listed in the master plan draft are the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts and a cafeteria addition at Fountain Rock Elementary School, both of which are scheduled to be completed in 2009.

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The capital projects listed furthest into the future are proposals to modernize Emma K. Doub and Old Forge elementary schools and Hancock Middle-Senior High School by 2021. Those projects are not funded.

Other projects in the master plan draft, with their completion date in parentheses, include a new Antietam Academy and a new Eastern Primary School (August 2011), a replacement for Bester Elementary School (August 2013), a new East City High School and a new West City Elementary School (August 2014) and a new South County Elementary School (August 2015).

Part of Monday's discussion focused on how the school system will be affected as population grows the most in the east end of the county.

Board member Paul W. Bailey said the current school board or a future board will have to address the changes in Hancock.

While other schools are seeing rising student population - in some cases, close to or above their official capacity - Hancock is seeing the opposite, at least at the high school level.

For 9th through 12th grades, Hancock is scheduled to have 202 students as of Sept. 30 of this year.

In about 10 years, Hancock's high-school enrollment is projected to drop to 154.

Hancock Elementary School, though, is projected to have roughly the same enrollment about 10 years from now.

Board President Roxanne R. Ober said the smaller that Hancock Middle-Senior High School gets, the fewer course choices it will have for students.

A chart in the master plan rates the conditions of current county school buildings, looking at factors such as the roof, the heating and air conditioning and the accessibility for handicapped people.

Among elementary schools, Salem Avenue had the top score, with Williamsport right behind.

The two lowest scores were for Pangborn and Maugansville, both of which are being replaced.

The highest score among middle schools was shared by Clear Spring and Northern. North Hagerstown had the top score for high schools.

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