In a regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting Wednesday evening, the board announced it would make some repairs to Charles Carroll but will also reassess the school’s viability again next year.
Charles Carroll Elementary is the oldest elementary school in Carroll County, built in 1929. Located in Silver Run, the aging school requires comprehensive renovation projects including a roof, heating system repair and septic repair. The expense of the projects has led the school board and county commissioners to consider closing the school. Silver Run residents and Charles Carroll families have regularly attended Board of Education and Carroll County commissioner meetings to advocate that the school be left open and repaired.
The Board of Education passed a motion at its meeting Wednesday that calls for a comprehensive assessment of every education facility in the county. The move was part of five recommendations made in relation to Charles Carroll Elementary.
"Charles Carroll is the spotlight for a much larger capital discussion that is ongoing," said Jonathan O'Neal, assistant superintendent of adminstration, who presented the recommendations for the school.
The study's findings would be presented by December, Carroll County Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said. The results will be shared with the Board of Education, the Board of Commissioners, and the public for input to consider for inclusion in the fiscal year 2014 capital budget, according to proposal documents.
Guthrie referred to declining enrollment at some county schools as evidence that there could be room to consolidate or repurpose the space those empty seats are creating.
They five recommendations passed by the board regarding Charles Carroll are:
- Replace a failing section of the school's roof during the summer for approx. $80,000.
- Replace a failed boiler and condensate tank during the summer for approx. $20,000.
- Diagnose and provide short-term solutions for a leakage in the heat plant for approx. $10,000.
- Conduct a comprehensive, system-wide study of capital assets, including the use of schools and whether there's room to consolidate.
- Hold off on finding a septic solution until a feasibility study can determine whether the school can sustain modernization efforts, and whether a new septic system could be incorporated.
The board also passed a motion to transfer $1.1 million from the teacher's medical insurance fund to the deferred maintenance budget, which has been operating with a $1.5 million shortfall for the last three years, causing a pile up of maintenance needs, Guthrie said.
That money will help pay for the repairs at Charles Carroll, he said.
The $1.1 million is part of about a $3 million profit the public school system made when it used a one-time boost from the Federal Education Jobs Fund to pay into employee health benefits, Guthrie said. Unlike several other counties in Maryland, the board felt uncomfortable using the money directly toward jobs since the influx of money was temporary, he said.
This way, the county can take care of a backlog of problems and buy new instruction material and equipment, maintenance vehicles, and make heating and water repairs, among other things, he said.