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Ground broken on Eastern Primary School

November 17, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County's planned Eastern Primary School is part of a "well thought-out program" to achieve equity, balance enrollment and provide the best possible learning environment for students, Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction director David Lever said Tuesday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony for the school.

"Every student has the right to be in a school that is not overcrowded, where they have adequate access to teachers, where the teachers can carry out their mission, and this facility will help that effort tremendously," Lever said.

Lever joined members of the Washington County Board of Education, the Washington County Commissioners, Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and other school system staff in the ceremony at the site of the planned pre-K to second grade school at the intersection of Mount Aetna Road and Yale Drive.

The school is being called Eastern Primary, but that name might change, Deputy Superintendent of Schools Boyd Michael said.

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Work at the site started last week, said Traci Coldsmith, project manager for Washington County Public Schools. Officials hope to have the pad for the school completed this winter and a roof on the school by next summer, Coldsmith said. The school is scheduled to open in August 2011, she said.

The school was designed so that all of the classrooms will have natural daylight, and it will use geothermal groundsource heat pumps for heating and cooling, said Lawrence P. Levato, senior project manager with Gilbert Architects Inc.

Lever said features like daylighting, air quality and classroom size are important in helping teachers do their jobs. In addition, a memorable school facility helps young people develop a taste for learning and gives identity and pride to a community, he said.

Morgan said the new school would create unique learning and enrichment opportunities for its students.

"We want the same that any students have across the state, even in the most affluent communities," she said. "Our students deserve the best. They should not get what would be the accident of their birth or the accident of the neighborhood in which they reside, so I'm happy to say that this neighborhood is going to have a wonderful school for our terrific kids."

During its meeting Oct. 6, the Washington County Board of Education awarded contracts totaling about $18.3 million to pay a majority of the cost to build the $25 million school, which is being built as part of a redistricting plan to help alleviate overcrowding at elementary schools across the county.

Redistricting is expected to affect about 1,400 students. About 285 of those students would be bused from their current schools to help fill Eastern Primary School.

"A majority of those kids are riding a bus to their schools already," Rob Rollins, executive director of school operations for Washington County Public Schools, said Monday.

According to court documents, 72.47 acres of land were conveyed to the board by the estate of Jacob R. Palmer on Jan. 30, 1974. About 21.8 acres of that land near the intersection of Yale Drive and Mount Aetna Road will be used to build the school.

Staff writer Dan Dearth contributed to this story.

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