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Washington County BOE members discuss adaptability of new elementary school

Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox told members to think about the physical school and about educational experiences board members would like to be available at a new school

October 16, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Building a “West City” Elementary School with an adaptable design was one of the ideas Washington County Board of Education members discussed Tuesday afternoon as they brainstormed ideas for the new school.

The adaptability of school space was brought up a few times, in part because the building should last for at least 50 years and educators don’t know what technological advances will be made or how learning spaces will be used so far in the future.

Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox told board members to think about the physical school and about educational experiences board members would like to be available at a new school. For this discussion, no idea was a bad one, he said.

Before the board suggested ideas, school system officials said the plan was for a three-round school, meaning three classrooms for each grade level — kindergarten through fifth grade and two classrooms for prekindergarten.

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The plan is to build an expanded core - wider hallways and common areas such as a library and cafeteria that can accommodate the addition of more classrooms in the future, if growth warrants expansion, school system officials said.

The total cost of the new school is estimated at $19,321,000, according to a presentation document. That includes the architect, furnishings, equipment and construction of the new school, Facilities Planning and Development Director Rob Rollins said.

Also discussed was the possibility of the community using the school, including social agencies and after-school groups, and possibly designing the school so others could use certain parts of the school without having access to the entire school.

Board member W. Edward Forrest said to keep in mind that once Winter Street Elementary closes, that building could be reused as a community center.

Winter Street and Conococheague elementaries are to close before the new school opens, which is expected in August 2016.

The ideas board members came up with Tuesday will be reviewed by the Facilities Committee, which meets at 11 a.m. on Oct. 23 at 701 Frederick St.

Wilcox said Tuesday night that he didn’t think anyone intended for the new school to be named “West City” and there will be a naming process for the school.

The anticipated opening day enrollment for the West City school is 330 to 340 students, based on last year’s projection, school system officials said. Several factors could change that number, including redistricting.

The projected enrollment was determined by considering that Winter Street and Conococheague schools would be closed and what the resulting seat deficiencies would be at surrounding elementary schools, Rollins said.

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