More money needed for high school Francis Scott Key plans exceed state reimbursement rules

'Couldn't whittle any more'

Commissioners to be asked for added funds for renovations

July 15, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The renovation of Carroll County's oldest high school will be hamstrung by state space guidelines that haven't changed since the 1970s, unless the county will commit more money to the project, school officials say.

The committee planning the renovation of Francis Scott Key High School in Uniontown has struggled to submit the most austere plan possible, but members say they stopped short of compromising on the space needed for classrooms.

School officials will meet with the Board of County Commissioners Aug. 2 to ask members to cover the extra cost for which there will be no state reimbursement. The renovation is supposed to be completed by 2000.

"We put together what we thought was a bare-bones [plan]. Then we had to whittle it down," said Principal George Phillips.

They whittled the office space. They cut one of two conference rooms. They suggested a smaller cafeteria and gave up some storage space and floor space in the library.

"Then we got to the point where we just couldn't whittle any more," Phillips said.

The state will pay 60 percent of the school's construction cost, based on a guideline of 130 square feet per student -- a guideline set 20 years ago. But the Key building committee's final set of specifications -- the document that guides the architect in designing the school -- comes out to about 152 square feet per student. For Key, that will total about 183,000 square feet.

The original budget, based on the 173,450 square feet that would match the state guidelines, was estimated at $13 million -- about $75 a square foot. School officials are working out a new budget that will reflect the additional 10,000 square feet needed, which could cost about $750,000 more.

Other high schools built in the past few years in the state have all gone over the guidelines, said Kathleen Sanner, a planner for Carroll schools. Counties, such as Howard and Frederick, have picked up the extra cost.

"A classroom used to be four walls and desks lined up in rows," Sanner said. "It's much more hands-on, production-oriented now. Science instruction isn't a lecture with a lab one day a week anymore."

Science students, especially in Carroll County, now spend about half or more of their time in lab work. Some classes, such as science research, consist of nearly daily lab work, with students working on independent and group projects, such as raising fish to release in area streams.

"We have computers now, too. That eats up a lot of square footage," Sanner said.

The plan for Key is for every classroom to have five "drops," or spaces that are wired for electronic media such as computers and modems.

Among other changes since the 1970s are federal requirements that schools be more accessible to students and staff in wheelchairs. Doors and turning radiuses have to be wider, and bathrooms have to be larger.

Pub Date: 7/15/96

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