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$5.6 million to be spent on systemic or maintenance projects in the school system this year

January 28, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Davon Anders, left, Keisha Mumma and Justin Beckley run on the gym floor at Springfield Middle School. This summer the floor will be replaced as part of Washington County schools maintenance projects.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Springfield Middle School’s “ugly,” “worn out” rubberized gym floor that is as old as the 35-year-old Williamsport school will be replaced this summer with a parquet floor better suited for athletic activity, said Mark Mills, Washington County Public Schools’ director of maintenance and operations.

Washington County Technical High School will get its entire roof replaced this summer, Mills said. Leaks in recent years have been patched, but it’s time for the roof, 20 years old in one section and 40 years old in another, to be replaced, he said.

Those projects are among $5.6 million in systemic or maintenance projects that Deputy Schools Superintendent Boyd Michael said the school system intends to start work on this year.

Work on most of the 14 projects is expected to start when school lets out for summer in June, school system officials said.

Three projects on the list might get pushed back if state funding comes through for them this spring because they would require additional review by the state, Michael said.

The school system has local funding lined up for those three projects, but is awaiting word from the Maryland Board of Public Works to see if the state will meet the school system’s funding request for those projects, Michael said. If the local money earmarked for them is freed up, it could be used to tackle other maintenance projects this summer, Michael said.

If the state doesn’t approve the money by spring, Michael said work on the three projects would proceed this year with local funding.

The three projects are replacing windows and doors at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, upgrading electrical service and buying an emergency generator for E. Russell Hicks Middle School, and replacing Funkstown Elementary School’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Even if local funds are used to replace Funkstown’s HVAC system, the earliest work would begin on that project would be the summer of 2013, said Rob Rollins, director of facilities planning and development.

If the state comes through with those funding requests or if other funding becomes available, the school system can begin work this summer on some of the 11 projects on another list of needed maintenance work that totals $8 million, school system officials said.

Which projects get moved up on the calendar depends in part on how much more funding the school system can secure, Michael said.

For years, the state has provided $250 million annually statewide for school construction projects, Rollins said. This year, Gov. Martin O’Malley wants to increase that by $120 million, but that still has to be approved by state lawmakers, he said.

Michael said school system officials haven’t heard yet whether the proposed $120 million would be lumped in with the $250 million or whether a different application process would be set up for that pot of money.

Michael said the school system probably would focus its requests for additional money on completing more maintenance projects.

School system officials have been working in recent years to get maintenance projects shovel-ready, Michael said. Once funding is secured, the project can be bid out and move forward if the scheduling window allows, he said. Factors affecting the schedule include how quickly supplies can be secured, school system officials said.

The school system also is developing a list of smaller maintenance projects to be done this summer, Mills said.

Among the upcoming maintenance projects is replacing doors and windows for at least two schools.

At Smithsburg High School, 266 windows of various sizes that total about 12,000 square feet and 45 exterior doors will be replaced for $569,580, according to Mills and the project list.

Mills said single-pane windows are being replaced by more efficient double-pane windows, most with aluminum frames that will not require painting.

Rollins said the double-pane windows let light in, but don’t let heat out of the building.

The doors, which are wooden in some cases, are being replaced with more secure metal doors with steel or aluminum frames that also will help with energy efficiency, Mills said.

One of the other projects is to finish connecting fire alarm systems in school system facilities, including schools, to a central call center, Mills said.

The central call center would automatically be alerted of an alarm at a school and someone in the call center, depending on the level of the alarm, would call 911 or the school, Mills said.

At Winter Street School in Hagerstown’s West End, a slide will be removed and modern playground equipment will be installed in a corner behind the school, Mills said.

The new playground equipment could be moved to a new school if Winter Street Elementary School is closed in a few years or it could remain on the property to benefit the community, he said.

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Systemic and maintenance projects

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