Schools, buildings get improvements

July 13, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

School renovations decided on a scientific basis

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County Public Schools expects to spend more than $10.2 million over the summer on improvements to 39 school sites and two administration buildings.

Of the 117 projects slated to be started over the summer, the most money is going to Greenbrier Elementary, with $1.36 million in roof, lighting and playground improvements, according to school system documents.

Boonsboro High School is second with $1.36 million in improvements, including a new cooling system and new lockers.

Rob Rollins, executive director of operations for the school system, said some work is done on all schools over the summer months, but the largest projects are included in the list of projects, which changes throughout the summer.


About $319,000 will be spent on the school system's central office on Commonwealth Avenue this summer. A second phase of renovations to the building's lobby is estimated to cost $300,000, and another $19,900 will be spent on painting the building's exterior.

The central office lobby received about $75,000 in improvements in 2008, including the installation of a wall-mounted, flat-screen television.

This year, officials plan to spend about $300,000 to build a janitor's closet and public restrooms near the front lobby, Rollins said. He said the project is likely to begin this fall.

About $300,000 in repairs for the school system's department of maintenance and operations is scheduled. The offices are housed at the former Southern Toy Store at 701 Frederick St. in Hagerstown.

The document shows that work to the former car dealership includes a $158,300 roof replacement, the construction of office space ($20,000), site improvements ($92,000) and a new equipment shed ($19,000).

The school system bought the Southern Toy Store property for $1.1 million in April 2008, and has already spent $110,000 to remodel the facility.

Washington County Public Schools spokesman Richard Wright said projects that would be disruptive if they were done during the school year are scheduled to be done in the summer.

This includes the most expensive summer project -- a replacement of Boonsboro High School's cooling system that is expected to cost about $850,400.

Rollins said most of the equipment being replaced is about 34 years old, which was the last time the school went through a "full modernization."

He said most of the cooling system replacement will be done when school begins, but work could continue into the school year.

A replacement of Greenbrier Elementary School's roof and rooftop heating and ventilation units is expected to cost about $1.32 million.

Both have outlived their typical "service life," Rollins said.

About $657,000 is expected to be spent to replace exterior windows at Fountaindale Elementary School.

"They're being replaced because they are original to the (1949) school," Rollins said. "They are old and leaky, and energy-inefficient."

Fountain Rock Elementary will receive a $412,000 replacement of its rooftop HVAC unit, and also will have a 2,800-square-foot cafeteria addition, which is expected to cost more than $1 million and be completed by Aug. 15.

Until recently, students at Fountain Rock ate lunch at their desks, the only school at which that practice was done, Rollins said. However, at the beginning of the last school year, students began eating lunch in the school's gymnasium, which also acts as a multipurpose room.

"We're working hard every day to get these schools set up for students when they come back in the fall," Rollins said.

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