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State officials see firsthand how school funds are spent

May 26, 2010|By HEATHER LOWERY
  • Pangborn Elementary School fourth-grader Maddie Gilliam, left, talks Wednesday with Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, center, and Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and state lawmakers joined Washington County Public Schools officials Wednesday for a tour of Pangborn Elementary School.

Pangborn Principal Elaine Semler led the group through the building, where the visitors saw classrooms and the gymnasium, cafeteria, playground, technology lab, science lab and media center.

Kopp and Maryland State Deputy Treasurer Howard Freelander stressed the importance of visiting schools in Maryland to see where funding is allocated and how the new or renovated schools are progressing.

"We like to take these visits. It's good to take these visits" Freelander said.

"The entire legislature and board understand the central importance of a school, and the importance of a school to its community," Kopp said.

The Board of Public Works, of which Kopp is a member, approved the funding for the building of Pangborn Elementary School.

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"Over the course of two years, I would like to see even more schools. The governor (Martin O'Malley) and the comptroller (Peter Franchot), who are also on the Board of Public Works, are going all over Maryland visiting schools," she said.

In addition to Pangborn, the state officials planned to make stops at Bester Elementary School, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, Freelander said.

Munson, who said he and Kopp "go back a long way," said "she helps decide ultimately how the money is going to be spent, and I have always been proud of her and proud to support her."

The importance of state funding is immeasurable, but getting to view the outcome is an experience all its own, Freelander said.

"It is a wonderful way to see how state money is spent. It's good to see an old school and then a new school," Freelander said.

Pangborn Elementary cost nearly $22 million to design and build.

"The total budget was $21.5 million, and that dealt with the design, construction and furniture," said Traci Coldsmith, project manager for Washington County Public Schools.

"I loved this school from when it was just a drawing," Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

Morgan said it was a struggle to get approval for a new building.

"We had to push hard to get a new one. The goal was to have a newly constructed building from the ground up, which is more economical," she said.

The new Pangborn school opened in 2008, and attendance continues to increase.

Pangborn, which opened two years ago, has 719 students. In the old building, attendance was in the 300s, Semler said.

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