Town: Boonsboro High should get higher priority

July 07, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO -- Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. says that a plan to put Boonsboro High School last on a countywide list of 15 new school buildings or school modernization projects is "unacceptable."

The Washington County Board of Education recently approved a plan that has the first major improvement to a Boonsboro school set for 2022, when Boonsboro High School will be modernized.

Boonsboro High was built in 1958, and was last renovated in 1975.

A new South County elementary school also is slated to be built in 2018, according to the school system's facilities master plan, which lists future construction projects. A site for that school has not been selected.

The Boonsboro Town Council voted Monday to write a letter to the school board saying it disagrees with the decision to place Boonsboro High School at the end of the list. The letter also will ask the school board to reconsider its priorities.


Board President Wayne D. Ridenour said Tuesday that he preferred not to comment on the statements made by town council members until he saw a copy of the town's letter and could share it with other school board members.

"I'm sure they aren't alone in their dissatisfaction," Ridenour said, referring to the town council. "I'm sure there are other schools that feel the same."

Boonsboro Elementary was built in 1950 and last renovated in 1991, and Boonsboro Middle School was built in 1976.

All three schools in the Boonsboro complex are listed in either "good" or "very good" condition in Washington County Public Schools planning documents.

"We are not happy with the 2022 date to modernize Boonsboro High," said Boonsboro Councilwoman Barbara Wetzel. "By 2022, it will be 47 years since any major renovations (were done to it). If we don't say anything (the school board) will think everything is OK."

School Board Vice President Ruth Anne Callaham described the list of school building projects as a "planning document" and said "there is always room to move things around."

"We focus on student achievement," she said. "And we really do want to hear from the council ... and we'll respond the best we can."

Wetzel also suggested meeting with the seven school board members.

However, Councilman Kevin Chambers said that previous meetings have not yielded many results for the town's schools.

"We've had people ... they want to run for the (school) board, represent South County. In fact, we have two members from South County on the board and you see what the results are."

Chambers was referring to school board members Donna Brightman, who lives in Southern Washington County, and Justin M. Hartings, a Keedysville resident.

Brightman and Hartings said they preferred not to respond to the town council's remarks until they read the town's letter.

In response to Chambers' comments, Brightman said it takes four out of seven votes to take action.

Brightman, who was the only member of the school board to vote against the planning document criticized by the town, also said the board members are elected at-large and do not represent any one area in Washington County.

"I think it's great the mayor and council are sharing their concerns," Brightman said. "I'd like to see more collaboration between the towns and (the school board)."

Brightman said she would like to set up a date for the full school board to meet with Boonsboro's town officials to discuss their concerns.

Hartings said he, too, would welcome a discussion.

"I am always interested in hearing feedback from members of the community, whether they are in South County or in other parts of the county," Hartings said.

These projects are included in the 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 Modernization of Fountaindale Elementary -- August 2016

o New East City High -- August 2017

o Addition to E. Russell Hicks Middle School and limited renovation -- 2017

o New South County Elementary -- August 2018

o New North County Elementary -- August 2019

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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