Antietam Academy building to be razed


HAGERSTOWN -- The Antietam Academy high school building that was damaged in a March fire will be demolished, according to Boyd Michael, deputy superintendent of Washington County Public Schools.

The 100 students there will be moved into portable classrooms at the beginning of the next school year. Those students have been attending classes at Grace Brethren Church in Hagerstown since their building, near South Hagerstown High School, was damaged.

Antietam Academy is a school for students who have had trouble in a regular school setting. The building used for Antietam Academy high school is about as old as South Hagerstown High School, which was built in 1956.

The Washington County Board of Education voted 6-0 Tuesday to demolish the damaged building, known as the "H building." Board Member W. Edward Forrest was absent.


Michael said it would cost as much as $2 million to bring the damaged structure up to code. It did not make sense, he said, to invest that money in a building that will be replaced in November 2010 or before with a new Antietam Academy.

Michael said the school system's insurance policy will cover much of the cost of demolition and of leasing portable classrooms. Next year, Antietam Academy students will attend school in two existing portable classrooms, along with eight leased portable classrooms.

Michael said negotiations with the insurance company are ongoing and a final settlement has not been decided.

The leased portable classrooms will likely be installed on the blacktop at South Hagerstown High School, Michael said.

The area where the Antietam Academy building now stands will be covered in grass.

Plans for a new Antietam Academy that would combine high school students from the South High campus and middle school students from the Western Heights Middle School campus were under way before the fire.

The 45,000-square-foot building could handle 200 students -- double the current capacity. The new school also will house students from Evening High School.

The new school has been projected to cost $13 million to $14 million, but likely will cost less, Michael has said.

The school board is expected to vote on new Antietam Academy construction documents at its June 16 meeting.

Michael said bids to demolish the existing building also could be available at that time. The bids will be for the building destruction and also for crews to remove asbestos.

Michael said officials appreciate the generosity of Grace Brethren Church as a more permanent home for Antietam Academy students is established.

"We greatly appreciate their hospitality," he said. "They opened their doors to help us out in our time of need."

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