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New Pangborn Elementary awaits permit to allow students

August 19, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- As of Monday, Pangborn Elementary students were not allowed inside of the new school building because it lacked an occupancy permit.

Officials expect that permit to be received today.

School begins for Washington County Public Schools students Wednesday.

Michael Heyser, chief code official for the City of Hagerstown, said Monday that Pangborn Elementary has a permit to allow administrators and teachers inside, but not students. He said it is "very likely" that a permit will be issued after an inspection today.

Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael said that he believes officials will have the temporary permit in hand today.

"That document as I understand will come (today)," he said. "We were told a few days ago that we were good with everything."

Michael said students will be in all three new school buildings - Pangborn, Rockland Woods and Maugansville elementary schools - on the first day of school.

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A temporary occupancy permit has been issued at Rockland Woods. Students and teachers will be allowed in all parts of the school, which is south of Hagerstown off of Sharpsburg Pike, said Dan DiVito, director of permits and inspections for Washington County.

He said the temporary permit was issued pending completion of some site work.

Teachers and students will be allowed in every part of the new Maugansville Elementary building except the gymnasium when school begins Wednesday, DiVito said.

Pangborn

Heyser said a permit has been issued allowing staff to be in Pangborn Elementary, but not students. That permit will likely be issued today, he said.

"There are just some incomplete items ... some site items," he said. "Some things that aren't done on the grounds, and we want to make sure (students) are safe."

One of those issues involves a stairway enclosure that prevents fire from spreading throughout the building. Heyser said the design was changed, delaying completion.

"They found a design that worked better," he said. "The firewalls are in, but we need confirmation from an engineer on one issue related to that."

Heyser said that issue involves wall reinforcement.

Project Manager Traci Coldsmith said the "fire-rated partition" has been built, but officials need to turn in paperwork about its design.

Any occupancy permits issued today will be temporary, becoming permanent when all site work is completed, Heyser said. A temporary permit would allow students to use the building.

"I'm not particularly concerned," Washington County Board of Education Vice President Donna Brightman said Monday. "I really think it's all going to come together."

She said the school board is aware of the situation regarding permits at all three new school buildings. Brightman said she expects the school board to be updated about the status of those permits during a public business meeting today.

"Everything is being done to be sure that students have classrooms to come to," she said.

Coldsmith said a permanent occupancy permit will be issued after all aspects of the schools are complete, including a bus loop scheduled to be done Aug. 25.

She said an exception was granted Monday so the school could host parents and children during an open house.

Maugansville and Rockland Woods

DiVito said the gymnasium at Maugansville Elementary will not be ready by Wednesday.

All other areas of the school are able to be occupied. However, workers cannot complete the gym while students are in the cafeteria, DiVito said. The two areas are separated by a partition.

"There's the potential for vapors and fumes," he said. "We said no work while the kids are (there)."

DiVito said the children also cannot be in an area that is not "completely separated" from the gym because of the potential for harm.

"The areas that will be open to kids will be safe," he said. "There's no reason anyone should not be in that building."

Rockland Woods Elementary has a permit for temporary occupancy, he said. The reason a regular permit has not been issued is because some site work still must be done.

DiVito said that includes landscaping and playground equipment.

"The school is ready," he said.

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