North Harford High project back on track

State's extra $5 million funds renovation's 1st year

May 16, 2004|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

With an infusion of money from the state, the nearly $51 million renovation of North Harford High School - the county's most expensive school construction project ever - is back on schedule.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. "gave us the full $5 million that was pending," Del. Barry Glassman, a Republican representing the northern part of the county and chairman of the county's legislative delegation, said Thursday. "That's really good news. It will allow that important project to move forward."

Short of money

Glassman said that the state "had originally agreed to kick in $6.5 million for the first year of construction, but came up with only $1.5 million. That left us $5 million short."

Schools Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas welcomed the funding. "As soon as the kids are gone, the big equipment comes in, and we get started," she said.

Kathleen Sanner, supervisor of planning and construction for the school system, said, "The demolition team will be in ripping and tearing" June 17, the last day of school for teachers.

Sanner said that a second financial hitch, which also threatened to delay or reduce the scope of the North Harford project, was resolved when the county agreed to provide $3.9 million to cover higher-than-expected construction costs.

Companies bidding for the work were forced to raise their bids to cover a sharp increase in the cost of construction materials, particularly steel, over the past three months.

The $5 million in state funding for North Harford High School was included in a $7.4 million award to the county.

Other school needs

Sanner said the remaining funds would be used to replace the roof at Edgewood Middle School and to acquire portable classrooms, which are needed to accommodate the all-day kindergarten program started last year.

Sanner said the $50.9 million project at North Harford includes furniture and equipment. It also involved the building of a wastewater treatment plant that will serve the high school and North Harford Middle School. The middle school is across Pylesville Road from the high school.

Construction of the North Harford project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2007.

At that time, the school's capacity will be increased to 1,600 from the current 1,453 to help ease crowding in other schools in the region.

"It will basically be the equivalent of a new school by the time it is done," Sanner said. "We are adding capacity and modernizing a 50-year-old school, building to bring it up to current standards."

Modernization

Plans call for modernization of all systems, including heating and air conditioning.

A fire prevention sprinkler system will be installed.

The building will be brought up to building code standards by having corridors and doors designed for quick evacuation in case of an emergency.

Classrooms will be larger. There will be a new gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, administrative offices and parking lot.

Sanner said that 11 portable classrooms would be installed at the school. They will be used by students who would normally be taking classes in a portion of the building under construction.

She said another quad, equivalent to four portable classrooms, and a single unit will be used as administrative offices during the renovation.

Sanner said previously 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.

Larger rooms

The art rooms and the music rooms will be about 33 percent larger, and they will be grouped together.

A geothermal heating and cooling system will draw on the constant temperature of the Earth to help heat the building in winter and cool it in summer.

Athletic fields will have to be torn up to allow for the drilling of about 350 holes, 8 inches in diameter, for the geothermal heating and cooling. The fields will be rebuilt.

The school will be about 42 percent larger when construction is completed.

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