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County gets money requested from state for new Bester Elementary School

Construction of the 72,000-square-foot building could begin by late summer

May 23, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • In this Herald-Mail file photo, Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown releases students for the day. The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved the full $4.4 million Washington County Public Schools requested toward building a replacement for Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown.
Herald-Mail file photo

The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved the full $4.4 million Washington County Public Schools requested toward building a replacement for Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown.

The total cost of building a new school is about $23 million, according to the state’s Public School Construction Capital Improvement Program.

Bids for the school project will be advertised in June, and construction of the 72,000-square-foot building could begin by late summer, said Rob Rollins, the director of facilities, planning and development for the county school system.

“It’s an important project, and it’s an exciting one,” Washington County Board of Education President Wayne D. Ridenour said.

He credited the staff and administration for getting all the state funding the school system had requested.

The new Bester elementary will be a state-of-the art school built behind the existing school and will take about two years to complete, Ridenour said. During construction, Bester students will be able to attend the current school, he said.

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In all, Washington County Public Schools was approved for $9 million in funding toward school construction projects out of $9.4 million it requested, said Joseph Shapiro, a spokesman for the state Comptroller’s Office.

Bester was one of six schools Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot toured earlier this year during a “construction tour.” The state Board of Public Works is comprised of Franchot, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.

The board announced Wednesday that an additional $161.5 million in unallocated funding was approved for Maryland public schools in fiscal 2013, which begins July 1.

The total funding for the fiscal year is now $349.2 million, according to a news release from Franchot’s office.

There were requests for funding for capital improvements from 274 schools in the state, with 206 projects being approved for funding, said Kim Frum, a spokeswoman for the Comptroller’s Office.

In January, the board approved $187.5 million in initial funding for school construction, the release said.
“The requests were for everything from chalkboards to brand-new facilities,” Frum said.

After the initial funds were distributed, representatives from 19 jurisdictions came before the board to request funds from the remaining $161.5 million in the school construction budget.

That initial amount approved in January included $3.6 million for Bester. School system officials went to Annapolis in late January to ask the board for an additional $2.4 million for school construction projects, including another $798,000 for Bester in the upcoming year.

Shapiro said funding for the following Washington County projects has also been approved for fiscal 2013:

  • $2,770,000 for a final payment from the state for construction of Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School.
  • $495,000 to replace windows and doors at Hancock Middle-Senior High School.
  • $277,000 toward an upgrade of the electrical system at E. Russell Hicks Middle School.
  • $247,000 toward replacing a boiler at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
  • $179,000 as a first installment to upgrading the heating and air-conditioning system for the Funkstown School for Early Childhood Development. The school system had requested $597,000 in January.
  • $634,000 for the Barbara School for the Arts. The state Board of Public Works initially approved $390,000 in January.
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