Anne Arundel Board of Education OKs renovation projects at two schools

Revitalization of Annapolis Elementary to preserve building's historical ambience

March 03, 2011|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Annapolis Elementary School is the oldest and longest continuously used public school in the state, a two-building gem in the city's historic district. As the Anne Arundel Board of Education signed off on its revitalization project, it lauded plans that ensure that the two-structure facility maintains its historical ambience.

Annapolis Elementary was one of two area schools the board voted to improve at Wednesday's meeting. It also voted to adopt designs to modernize the Germantown Elementary School for use by the Phoenix Annapolis Center.

School board Chairwoman Patricia Nalley said that the Annapolis Elementary project "will enhance the entire community. It is a school that, I would like to say, is the linchpin of the historic district.

"It is a unique building project because of all the different entities that had to be included, such as Historic Annapolis," said Nalley. "It's an exciting opportunity for the community and for the students in Anne Arundel County."

Annapolis Elementary is home to two structures: the elementary school that was built in 1895 and the offices at the adjacent Philip and Rachel Hall Brown Building, which was built in 1905. The revitalization will include a three-story connector between the buildings. It would increase the school's capacity to 314 students.

A separate one-story area will be added to the school's multipurpose room. The project also will include adding concrete stairs, wheelchair-accessible ramps and a new fire sprinkler system; expanding the existing boiler room in the Brown building; and replacing plumbing fixtures.

The project is slated to cost $19.4 million. Construction would start in June 2012 and be completed by August 2014, school officials said.

Annapolis Elementary Principal Susan Myers said the revitalization plans have been well received in a school that has one bathroom area, located on its first floor, meaning that students on the top floor must walk two flights to use it.

But Myers said that the most important aspect of the project is the attention to the school's historical significance and preserving the exterior design.

The Phoenix Annapolis project will modernize the current Germantown Elementary facility, which that school will vacate when it moves into a new building next door in August. Phoenix Annapolis students are scheduled to move into the building in August 2013, school officials said. The renovation will cost $17.7 million.

The modernization will allow the facility to house three separate programs, including a Secondary Alternative Academy for approximately 105 high school students. School officials say that the facility will serve students "whose behavioral choices have created persistent disruption in their comprehensive school and impacted the ability of their peers to be educated in a safe and orderly environment."

It will also have an Emotionally Disabled Regional Program for approximately 105 middle and high school students and an Elementary Emotionally Disabled Regional Program for approximately 30 elementary school students.

"Phoenix Annapolis is going to increase enrollment for students having difficulty in the regular school setting," said Nalley. "We are looking at that as bringing in a lot of different services that we cannot do now for these students, really giving them access to many kinds of support that they don't have now."

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