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Master plan includes 8 proposed new schools

June 02, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County Public Schools officials are considering opening eight new school buildings in the next decade and modernizing another six.

Those plans are included in the educational facilities master plan being considered by the Washington County Board of Education. The document, which was discussed during a board work session Tuesday, can change from year to year based on enrollment and facility needs.

The school board is expected to vote on the plan during its June 16 meeting before offering it to state officials for approval.

School projects currently under way include the opening of the new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown. The high school for the visual and performing arts cost about $10 million and will open in August.

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A new Antietam Academy is expected to cost $13 million to $14 million and open in December 2010. A new Eastern Primary School opening in August 2011 is expected to cost $22.2 million and enroll 620 students in prekindergarten through second grade.

Future major construction projects being proposed for county schools include a replacement school for Bester Elementary opening in 2014. Bester Elementary originally was built in 1930, and was last renovated in 1988.

What is now being called "West City" elementary school is being proposed to open in the West End of Hagerstown in 2015, replacing Conococheague and Winter Street elementary schools.

Board member Justin M. Hartings asked school system staff how they decided which schools to renovate and which to replace with new buildings. He said some schools, like Sharpsburg Elementary, were being recommended for renovations at the same time officials were planning for a new South County Elementary School.

Hartings said his focus was on saving money and providing better facilities.

Board Vice President Ruth Anne Callaham said the school system should do more to show parents why one school is chosen for renovations over another. She suggested that a cost analysis of projects could be one way to do that.

Board member Donna Brightman said she had concerns that the draft document presented Tuesday was referencing redistricting changes being considered by a committee that have not been approved by the school board.

For example, the draft document states, "It is anticipated that a large number of the Greenbrier Elementary student population will be reassigned to the new Eastern Primary/Eastern elementary schools when Eastern Primary opens in 2011."

However, the committee discussing possible redistricting changes for the county has not yet sent that recommendation to the school board.

"That whole process has yet to occur, and we're making statements that might never happen," Brightman said. "It sort of paints us into a corner. It just makes me squirm a little bit."

List of WCPS projects



List of projects included in draft of Washington County Public Schools Educational Facilities Master Plan

o New Barbara Ingram School for the Arts -- August

o New Antietam Academy -- December 2010

o New Eastern Primary School -- August 2011

o Replacement of Bester Elementary School -- August 2014

o Replacement of Conococheague and Winter Street elementaries (West City Elementary) -- August 2015

o New South County Elementary -- August 2018

o New East City High -- August 2017

o New North County Elementary -- August 2019

o Modernization of Fountaindale Elementary -- August 2016

o Modernization of Sharpsburg Elementary -- August 2019

o Modernization of Emma K. Doub Elementary -- August 2021

o Modernization of Cascade Elementary -- August 2022

o Modernization of Hancock Middle-Senior High -- August 2022

o Modernization of Boonsboro High -- August 2022

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