N. Harford High work to create `virtually ... a new building'

Renovation to begin next spring, finish in '07

March 09, 2003|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

The Harford County school system is gearing up for its biggest construction program ever, the $44 million renovation of the North Harford High School near Pylesville.

"It will be our biggest project both in cost and in scope," said Kathleen Sanner, supervisor of planning and construction for the school system.

Sanner told approximately 80 parents who attended a briefing at the high school Tuesday evening that when completed, it will "virtually be a new building."

Plans call for new and larger classrooms, gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, administrative offices and parking lots.

There will be a geothermal heating and cooling system that will draw on the constant temperature of the Earth to help heat the building in the winter and cool it during summer.

Part of the interior will look more like a shopping mall than any high school attended by most parents of current students at North Harford.

Sanner said there are plans for a retail center in the school - "like a farmers' market" - where agriculture and environmental science students can sell nursery plants, floral arrangement and other items they have worked with in class.

The child development department will be expanded. It will be moved to the first floor to make it easier for parents to drop off preschoolers, and there will be a courtyard where the kids can go outside and play, according to Sanner.

"There will be a full modernization of all systems," she said. This includes the heating and air-conditioning systems and sprinklers throughout the building. The building will be brought up to building code standards by having corridors and doors designed for quick evacuation in case of an emergency.

Sanner said that plans call for the demolition of 25,000 square feet of the existing school. There will be 96,000 square feet of new space and 142,000 square feet will be renovated.

When completed, the "new" school will be 42 percent larger than the present structure. It is scheduled to have a capacity of 1,600 students, up from 1,450.

"Lots of exciting things will happen to the classrooms," said Sanner. She said the art rooms and the music rooms will be about 33 percent larger than current facilities, and they will be grouped together.

"The math rooms will be next to the science rooms," she added. "Classrooms will be grouped in a logical way.

"Every space in the school will be renovated," she said, "There will be new windows, new floors, ceilings and cabinets."

James C. Richardson, Harford County's director of human resources and a resident of Pylesville, was one of the parents in the audience during Sanner's presentation.

"It's a good plan," said Richardson, whose three children will attend North Harford.

He said the school board has done a good job of planning so that the renovation will proceed as smoothly as possible.

"It's like renovating your bathroom at home," he said. "There are going to be some inconveniences. We will just have to bear with it."

Richardson said he was happy with plans to link the food science and agriculture classes in a program of study that combines production, processing and marketing of farm products. "We are not going to be able to keep our farmers unless we can teach them how to make money."

Construction plans call for the existing gravel parking lot to be paved and there will space for an additional 100 cars.

The administrative offices will be moved to the side of the building facing west and they will be "designed so that office personnel can have a good view of anyone coming or going through the main entrance," she said. "This is for security reasons."

Sanner said that the baseball, field hockey and soccer fields will be torn up to allow for the drilling of about 350 holes, 8 inches in diameter, for the geothermal heating and cooling systems. The fields will be rebuilt.

Construction is slated to begin next spring and be completed in the summer of 2007.

During the period of construction, the school will shift some classes to eight or 10 single-unit portable classrooms and one four-class quad building, according to Sanner.

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