School almost ready to open New Elmer Wolfe Elementary expected to debut on time

August 02, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The new Elmer Wolfe Elementary School in Union Bridge will be ready for students in a few weeks, after a series of cost-related setbacks postponed its opening by a year.

By all accounts, the result has been worth the wait.

"It's a sharp building," said Lester P. Surber, a supervisor in Carroll's school facilities department. "It will be a major asset to the community."

The $6.5 million school, designed for 600 students, is on the site of the original Elmer Wolfe Elementary School, which was built in 1931 and demolished two years ago.

Since then, Elmer Wolfe students and staff have been housed in temporary quarters at the old New Windsor Middle School.

Surber said the administrative office, media center and custodial staffs have been at the school for about a week and are busy preparing for the students' arrival.

He said teachers and volunteers will start setting up classrooms Aug. 10.

"Right now, we're going through equipment demonstrations, we're receiving furniture and setting up furniture," Surber said.

Still to be completed is the installation of a water tank to serve the school's fire sprinkler system.

"We'll be ready to open on time," said Dean Johnson, assistant principal at Elmer Wolfe. "It'll be a nice facility. The building itself is user-friendly and maximizes all the instructional spaces."

The construction of the school ran into trouble when bids to rebuild Elmer Wolfe came in $1.6 million over budget.

To cut costs, architects and engineers removed some features from the school's original design, including built-in cabinets and shelves in classrooms, glazed tile on the hallway walls and terrazzo tiled floors in the entryways, and a courtyard.

Parents protested the cuts, saying Elmer Wolfe wouldn't have some basic features of other newly built elementary schools.

As a result, the County Commissioners restored $42,000 to the school's construction budget to include a courtyard. But they did not agree to parents' requests to add another $64,000 for shelving.

Despite the absence of some of the original design features, school board member Carolyn Scott praised the finished product.

"It's really quite lovely," said Scott, who served on the planning committee for the Elmer Wolfe school. "They've done a nice job of incorporating some of the elements of the original school."

Two outdoor light fixtures from the old building hang in the school lobby, and a sign at the side of the school includes the limestone insets from the original school building sign.

"The word 'school' had to be recast," Johnson explained, "but 'Elmer' and 'Wolfe' are from the original plaques."

Elmer Wolfe Elementary School will hold open houses for parents and students from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 20 and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 21.

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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