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Washington County school system budgets record number of maintenance projects

July 23, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Eighty-one local school maintenance projects have been completed this summer.

That is about half of the 169 projects taking place at Washington County Public Schools throughout the summer. It is the most maintenance projects the school system has ever budgeted for during the summer months. Completion of the projects, totaling more than $7.3 million, can take place trough October, according to Director of Maintenance and Operations Michael Peplinski.

The list of projects can change, though, Peplinski has said, and about 30 projects have been added since late June.

Summer maintenance work was discussed during a committee meeting Tuesday.

Most public schools in Washington County will receive at least some updates and construction work. Lincolnshire and Pleasant Valley elementary schools are not slated for any projects; nor are Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools, which will be torn down this summer to make way for larger replacement schools that are scheduled to open in August.

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Demolition to Pangborn Elementary began Monday.

Boyd Michael, school system deputy superintendent,said officials are anticipating less state funding for maintenance work next year, and unless there is an increase in funds from Washington County, fewer maintenance projects will be completed.

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

Another project not on the list of maintenance jobs is completion of work at Clear Spring Middle School to eliminate strong odors in the building.

Peplinski said work began during the most recent school year to fix ventilation and pipes to eliminate the unpleasant smell. That work is expected to be complete this summer.

Washington County Board of Education Member William H. Staley, chairman of the facilities committee, said his grandchildren attend Clear Spring Middle and he has heard many complaints about the smell.

"Most of the vent pipes were either not connected, not sealed, or were broken and cracked," Peplinski said during Tuesday's committee meeting. "We replaced several different vent pipes in the winter or spring of last year."

He said there is at least one more issue related to the odor problem that will be fixed before students return Aug. 20. Peplinski said the problems stemmed from the school's original construction, which was completed in 1979.

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