$42,000 restored for school courtyard But commissioners won't fund shelving for Elmer Wolfe

February 28, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners restored $42,000 yesterday to the Elmer Wolfe Elementary School project to include a courtyard when the school is rebuilt this year.

That is less than half the money that the more than 50 parents, teachers and students who packed a meeting room sought yesterday.

They also wanted $64,000 to restore shelving.

The money might be available later, the commissioners said. But they said a more pressing need exists: replacing the roof at the school's temporary quarters at old New Windsor Middle School, where mold and fungus could be thriving between a leaky roof and a drop ceiling.

That project will cost about $100,000.

"They should fix the roof, but not at the expense of the new school," said Debbie Doxson, a Union Bridge parent.

[The New Windsor site] "is only a temporary facility for the children and staff, so why should we sacrifice our courtyard and cabinets for a $100,000 Band-Aid?" said teacher Susan Getty, reading a statement from the staff.

"If I had my druthers, I wouldn't put money in the old school either," said Commissioner President Richard T. Yates.

"But the children could get sick."

The saga of Elmer Wolfe School began last year, when bids to rebuild the school came in about $1 million over budget. The architect scaled down the project, and the schools rebid to get the project to $6.9 million.

Two cuts, however, were to be restored when the Board of Education got an unexpected dividend payment from its workers' compensation insurance carrier in the fall.

The dividend was $237,000, and the school board asked in November to put it toward building repairs and to allot $106,000 to restore the courtyard and shelving to the Elmer Wolfe rebuilding project.

In January, the commissioners denied the school board's request for the school, saying the money was needed for other school building projects and repairs.

At the time, Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said he might consider the shelving, but not the courtyard.

The Elmer Wolfe community met with Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Yates Tuesday to lobby for the money to be restored.

Tuesday, Dell reasoned that the current building's roof had to take priority.

But he said the courtyard was a better use of money than the shelving. The shelving could be added if money remained from contingency funds of other building projects; the courtyard will have to be part of the original construction.

The roof at the old New Windsor Middle, used by Elmer Wolfe students until the new elementary is built in Union Bridge, is leaking. The leaks have saturated porous material -- either insulation or old ceiling material -- between the drop ceiling and the roof in about four classrooms.

The material can't dry, and is likely to be harboring mold and fungus, said Vernon Smith, director of support services for Carroll County schools. The project shouldn't be delayed, he said, because air quality problems could result.

"We want to get it out of there now," Smith said. The whole roof will need to be replaced, probably during the summer, he said.

The plan is to do one classroom at a time, he said, which could take about a month.

School workers will remove the drop ceiling, and a contractor will be hired to remove the saturated material. School workers will replace the ceiling. Smith said Principal Mary Stong has said she could arrange to vacate one classroom at a time.

"But the whole roof will need to be replaced" [later], Smith said. "Based on past experience, we expect that will cost about $100,000."

In addition to the $64,000 from the insurance dividend, the commissioners are directing the school board to find $40,000 in its operating or capital budget to cover the roof's cost.

Smith said that money might be left over when accounts are settled for the recently renovated Taneytown Elementary School and the new Oklahoma Road Middle School in the next few months.

The old New Windsor Middle School, once Elmer Wolfe is rebuilt, will be used for the alternative school program.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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