Board of Education, county and community officials recently reviewed capital improvement projects during a bus tour highlighting repair work at county schools.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill hosted the morning tour on Aug. 20 to provide information about Charles County Public Schools’ (CCPS) Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and to share how projects are funded through multiple sources.
First stop was at T.C. Martin Elementary School, a 570-student school that opened in 1967 and expanded in 2009 to include four new full-day kindergarten classrooms. Parking lot renovations completed this summer streamlined student and bus drop-off areas and provided bus and permanent parking spots. CCPS also completed installation of new playground equipment this month.
Tour guide and CCPS Supervisor of Planning and Construction David Clements talked about the student population growth and special program needs. He said CCPS has the third fastest growing special education population in the state, creating a need for more specialized classrooms to accommodate programs.
Clements highlighted two large projects in the predesign stage – the renovation and expansion of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School in Waldorf and the planned construction of Elementary School 22 off of Billingsley Road. Construction of the new school, Clements said, will relieve overcrowding of nearby elementary schools on the west side of U.S. 301 and the renovation of Dr. Mudd will update the school, which opened in 1967, while adding capacity to help relieve overcrowding in some Waldorf schools east of U.S. 301.
Dr. Mudd has been passed over for renovation during the past decade due to new school construction. The school system began to shift its focus from new construction in 2013 when it contracted a facilities study to compile data about school capacity, student enrollment, physical building conditions, mechanical system conditions and site characteristics. The purpose of the survey was to assess the physical condition of each school building to determine its ability to provide students with an equitable and modern educational program.
The school system is working with the county to develop a long-range building program to address growth while renovating and expanding aging schools. Projects like those underway at Gale-Bailey Elementary School and Benjamin Stoddert Middle School are part of a strategy to move school facility improvements forward through alternate funding sources while reducing future financial burdens on the county. CCPS hopes to improve a school every three to four years in addition to major state and local CIP projects.
Stoddert was the second stop on the tour. The school opened in 1976 and is recommended for renovation and expansion within a decade. Clements said CCPS is using various funding sources to make upgrades that can be incorporated in a larger renovation, reducing future renovation costs. At Stoddert, the hallways are brighter due to a 2014 Energy Efficiency Initiative (EEI) lighting retrofit. EEI is funded through the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and SMECO rebates. Retrofitting reduces the annual maintenance on the lights and generates savings of approximately $20,000 per school per year. Additionally, at Stoddert, a gymnasium renovation included the new EEI lighting, bleacher replacements, painting, and replacement of the flooring surface. Future renovations include installation of new energy efficient heating and air conditioning equipment to replace original equipment.
At Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School in Waldorf, improvements include the addition of five full-day kindergarten classrooms, including two with special education facilities, EEI lighting retrofits, replacement of an aging underground fuel tank, rooftop HVAC units and boilers.
The Maryland State Department of Education and Board of Public Works have approved acquisition of land off Billingsley Road for a new elementary school along with approval of the planning process. The school now moves to the design stage with expectation of opening in 2018.
The final bus stop was at Gale-Bailey in Marbury. Opened in 1969, Gale-Bailey is an example of the CCPS Planning and Construction and Maintenance departments working to gradually improve a school using multiple funding sources.
Included in Gale-Bailey’s improvements are a 2009 kindergarten addition and partial renovation funded by state and local CIPs. CCPS funded new kitchen service lines and flooring coupled with cafeteria improvements that include a modernized food service area and equipment with State Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) and the CCPS capital maintenance budget. QZAB provides federal funds for capital improvements and repairs at existing schools where at least 35 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Additionally, QZAB funds provided for a new sanitary system meeting updated environmental standards and CCPS will use operating and maintenance funds to replace the roof and rooftop air conditioning units later this school year. EEI funds will be used to retrofit lights this school year.