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Washington Co. school board adopts blueprint policy

Amendment added to allow different criteria to determine whether to use repetitive design

May 18, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- The Washington County Board of Education passed a policy Tuesday night that allows the school system to use one blueprint to build new schools, but with an amendment that allows school officials to be flexible on school construction.

Using one blueprint to build more than one school was being considered to save taxpayer money, but Board Vice President Justin Hartings said Tuesday night he had concerns about the proposal.

Hartings said the policy encourages repetitive school design "in the abstract," but there are various issues that need to be considered when building new schools that might require a new design instead of using a generic one.

Issues that need to be considered in school design include topography of the site and updated state requirements for building schools, Hartings said.

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Hartings introduced an amendment that allows school officials to consider different criteria to determine whether the school system should consider a repetitive design or a new design for a school.

Board member Donna Brightman said she liked Hartings' amendment because it gives the school system the balance it needs for school construction.

Earlier this month, four architects presented arguments opposing the use of a single-design plan.

James H. Determan Jr. of Baltimore-based Hord, Coplan and Macht said 24 states no longer use prototype designs because they present too many problems.

Determan said "plans become hopelessly obsolete" and there generally is no savings to the community.

Prototypes also fail to keep up with energy-saving changes in technology, Determan said, which can cost more to operate a building in the long run.

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