Washington County school system seeks to complete $7.3 million in projects over summer

June 25, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Students returning to Conococheague Elementary School in August will have air conditioning in their classrooms.

Williamsport High School students will be able to store their books and supplies in new lockers.

And workers will replace the roof on Potomac Heights Elementary School this summer.

These projects and about 140 others are part of Washington County Public Schools' effort to complete $7.3 million in maintenance projects, according to Director of Maintenance and Operations Michael Peplinski. The majority will be completed during the summer months when students and teachers are not in the buildings.

The first day of school for students is Aug. 20. Teachers return to classrooms Aug. 14.

Every public school in Washington County will receive at least some updates and construction work, with the exception of Lincolnshire and Pleasant Valley elementary schools. Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools also are not slated for any work because both will be torn down this summer to make way for larger replacement schools that are scheduled to open in August.


Last summer, about $6 million in projects were completed at 30 schools.

Thirty projects on this summer's list already have been completed, including replacing auditorium seats at Boonsboro High School ($110,000) and removing asbestos from the cafeteria at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education ($13,160).

Major projects

Peplinski said that the list of summer projects can change; 14 projects were added to the list Tuesday. Some of the tasks are being completed by the 40-person maintenance staff at Washington County Public Schools. The others will be completed by contractors.

"There are some (employees) can do, but there just aren't enough people to do them all," Peplinski said. "I just don't have the staff to do all of these."

One of the more significant projects this summer is the replacement of rooftop units at Clear Spring middle ($791,300) and high ($914,600) schools, he said. Both units, which control heating, cooling and air handling for the schools, are as old as the school buildings, which were built in the 1970s.

Peplinski said the average life span of the units is 20 to 25 years.

Preventative maintenance helps the school system stretch the usefulness of those units and others, like the rooftop unit replaced last year at Smithsburg Middle School, Peplinski said. That unit also was new in the 1970s.

He said about $500,000 is spent on preventative maintenance each year.

Clear Spring High School bleachers ($185,000) also will be replaced. Peplinski said it was recommended the bleachers be replaced before safety becomes an issue. Bleachers at Boonsboro, Williamsport and North Hagerstown high schools have been replaced in the past for similar reasons, he said.

Air conditioning ($737,000) is being installed at Hancock Middle-Senior High School this summer, and the project should be completed by the end of August, Peplinski said. Hancock is the only county high school without air conditioning.

Like other projects, Hancock's air conditioning was partially funded through state funds. Peplinski said the school system received about $300,000 for the project.

Replacing lockers at Williamsport High School this summer will cost about $77,693. Peplinski said the school's current lockers are in "terrible shape" and are original to the school, which was built in the 1970s.

He said the lockers no longer are useable, since students aren't able to fit their large book bags, coats and other items into the tall, narrow lockers built in the 1970s. The lockers being installed this summer will be shorter and wider, Peplinski said.

Conococheague and Cascade elementary schools will be outfitted with new boilers, he said. The average life span of a boiler is 40 to 45 years, he said. Conococheague and Cascade elementary schools' boilers are both original to the schools, which were built in the 1960s.

The boiler replacement at Conococheague Elementary will cost about $170,730; the replacement at Cascade will cost about $173,000.

Lighting replacements at Emma K. Doub Elementary ($75,000) and E. Russell Hicks Middle School ($100,000) are expected to increase energy efficiency and save the school system money.

"It will be a cost savings," Peplinski said. "Saving electricity ... it adds up. These (lighting replacements) will probably pay for themselves in a year or so."

Summer projects

Some of the more than 140 summer projects at public schools in Washington County include:

· Replacing roof at Potomac Heights Elementary School - $531,355

· Replacing rooftop unit for heating, cooling and air handling at Clear Spring Middle School - $791,300

· Replacing rooftop unit at Clear Spring High School - $914,600

· Replacing boiler at Cascade Elementary School - $173,040

· Replacing lockers at Williamsport High School - $77,693

· Repaving driveways and parking lots at Boonsboro Middle School - $100,000

· Repairing playground blacktop at Springfield Middle School - $30,000

· Replacing fire alarm at Springfield Middle School - $40,000

· Replacing front entrance of Western Heights Middle School - $18,000

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