Washington County Public Schools' Central Office 'has issues'

March 31, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |

Occasional leaks in the roof, a poorly rated electrical system, a lack of central air for the entire office building and lead paint and asbestos abatement issues are some of the problems at Washington County Public Schools’ Central Office, according to schools officials and planning documents.

Describing the 820 Commonwealth Ave. administrative center in January, Board of Education President Wayne Ridenour said it “has issues. That’s the nice way to put it.”

The administrative centers, including a nearby building at 701 Frederick St., have an estimated $4,757,000 in  deferred maintenance, though most of that is for the Commonwealth Avenue portion, Deputy Schools Superintendent Boyd Michael said.

The Central Office complex, off Commonwealth Avenue, has original sections from 1938 and 1958 with additions in 1966, 1969 and 1990, according to the school system’s 2011 Educational Facilities Master Plan.

The complex includes administrative offices, two garage buildings for the transportation department, a planetarium, an auditorium for school board meetings and hearings, two other large rooms for training, a portable building for storage, and another portable building that houses student personnel workers, Michael said.

The Frederick Street building, which was purchased in 2008, houses facilities, planning and development offices, including a maintenance shop, school system spokesman Richard Wright said.

The Frederick Street office is in good condition, Ridenour said. The building was renovated in 2009, according to the master plan.

The Commonwealth Avenue administrative center’s roof, electrical system, sprinkler (which doesn’t exist) and fire alarm system are described as poor in the master plan. Heating, air conditioning, flooring, technology wiring and security are described as adequate.

The roofs of the transportation department’s two garage buildings are rusty, Michael said.

A portion of the main office building’s roof was replaced several years ago, Michael said.

“We patch and repair and keep on going,” he said.

Many of the offices have window air conditioning units, while the board auditorium and Summit Room, used for training, have separate central air units, Michael said.

“It’s probably not that cost-effective to operate that building with the way it was constructed,” board member Paul Bailey said. “There would be some benefit going into a building that was more economical to operate.”

Not counting approximately 125 bus drivers and assistants, there are about 215 employees based at the Central Office, Wright said. That includes mechanics as well as some employees, such as student personnel workers, who spend a lot of time at schools or in the community, he said.

About 60 people are based at the Frederick Street office, including maintenance workers who go there to pick up a van and work at schools, Wright said.

The employee figures do not account for a restructuring at the Central Office that will kick in this July and reduce the number of administrative positions, Wright said.

The Herald-Mail Articles