Thursday, March 27, 2008

High School For Charles Put on Hold

A decision by the Maryland Board of Public Works not to approve funding for a planned new high school in Charles County throws into question the Charles school system's ability to keep pace with years of rapid growth that left every existing county high school overcrowded.

Charles public schools officials have instructed architects from the SHW Group, the Reston-based firm that designed three county schools, to stop work on plans for the school, which had been slated to open in 2011 with a price tag of about $97 million. The County Commissioners, who have urged the Board of Education for months to cut costs on the project, told Superintendent James E. Richmond last week that the high school should be placed on hold indefinitely.

According to the funding formula that governs school construction, the state government would be responsible for about $42 million of the cost of the school as originally planned.

Read more HERE


im1ru2 said...

Is this a surprise to anyone? Especially in government? Considering the costs for the extras - and some of us have talked about this "to death" - while others in the administration have defended the dome, ball fields and swimming pools and other non-essentials running up the costs in the same breath with "roof costs and insulation". All the while comparing Charles County building cost to St. Mary's cost (without the domes, pools and others) and blaming our much higher cost on labor, while blaming the roof cost, insulation and other usual “need to have” and never mentioning the pools, ball fields or dome.

Total side speak. Build a high school for $42 million. I bet you can get the 4 walls, good teachers, books and great grades for that much money; and no trailers. And the State pays the whole bill! For once we’d one up them!

You'd be surprised what you can do when you tighten your belt!

LegalBeaglette said...

I have to agree with im1ru2’s sentiments.

I was disturbed by the school administration’s response when former board member Margaret Young raised questions and concerns about the planetarium; it seemed haughty and indignant on its part…Mr. Richmond had wanted and talked about a planetarium “for years” and this wasn’t new. That it was being discussed in political circles as a done deal before the elected Board of Education was aware of it only gave further credence to my belief that there is far too much wheeling and dealing to which the public – the taxpaying public – is not privy.

Mr. Richmond’s planetarium – er, excuse me, “digital classroom” – has already been an expense. $11,000 plus for trips around the country to review designs, costs for the creation of architectural plans. The way this is being discussed, it’s as if we should believe carving off the digital classroom so that it can be funded through other means is simple and no longer relevant to the discussion of the overall building costs. Really? It’s a little more involved than, say, building a storage shed on the corner of the property, I think.

There seems to be one point of agreement: that we need more classrooms. The amenities that go with those classrooms are an issue, however. It is important that we take care of what we already have – the roofs and boilers and sanitation systems, etc. – and to plan for addressing those maintenance issues, and further building needs, responsibly. Milk and eggs are more important than candy!

Anonymous said...

To Legalbeaglette - Wow! It sure is nice to know that SOMEONE was listening when I expressed my concerns about the Planetarium so many years ago.

From my perspective, while I was a board member, it was essentially a done deal BEFORE it was ever presented to the Board. A phenomenal amount of leg work, planning, and politicing was done by the administration WITHOUT Board notification, let alone approval. Once presented to the Board - in private session, of course - the lemmings acted instinctively.

I can't say I am happy that the entire project has been put on hold; we need the seats. However, I'm happy to hear the concept of accountability for fiscal restraint has finally prevailed at the state level, especially since the school administration ignored repeated requests - from their funding sources - to tighten their guilded belt. It's just too bad that our elected representatives at the local level aren't familiar with the same concept.

Your analogy is spot on... milk and eggs are more important than candy.

Margaret Young

Anonymous said...

The article states, "But Hodge said he believes school officials must change the school's overall design, which is about two-thirds completed."

He is absolutely right. Until this school system starts building up instead of out, and until they cut unnecessary costs (carpet instead of tile), and until they eliminate "architectural flair" our schools are destined to be overpriced.

My alma mater, Bladensburg HS, was recently leveled and reconstructed. It is basically L-shaped and at least 5 levels in height. And that's only what I can count from the outside. SHW, and our school board administrators that direct them, are famous for significantly increasing construction costs by building odd-shaped, oops, I mean artistic schools. Rather than build a four story rectangular school they build a sprawling E-shaped school with multiple roof lines, triple the perimeter's exterior construction costs, and incorporate courtyards that are seldom, if ever, used.

They told me building up is costlier than building out, and they assured me that carpeting was healthier, easier to clean, less allergenic and more hygenic than tile - even after kids vomit on it. Unfortunately, I was too busy buying swamp land in Florida to research the validity of those claims.

Margaret Young