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Charles Carroll Elementary Survives Another Year

The Board of Education approved emergency repairs for Charles Carroll Elementary School but held off on further, long term, modernization efforts.

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.

newsjunkie May 01, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Buck, what do you consider a "proven track record of negligence"? Public properties are renovated all the time as the needs of the users change. Science lab renovations, the South Carroll Fine Arts addition and renovations to address the needs of all day kindergarten are all recent examples of "major renovations". Older schools such as Charles Carroll, East Middle, and William Winchester are examples of schools that were built to serve one population and are now being being pressed in to service to serve another. Most renovations are actually modernizations to meet changing educational needs. If, for example, a school is thirty years old it may be more cost effective to renovate than to replace windows, roofs, heat plants and address the changing demands of the student population in a piece meal fashion. Regardless of weather it is operational maintenance such as a new roof or major renovations there is always the constraint of a limited budget. This has the greatest impact on what can be done and when.
Buck Harmon May 01, 2012 at 01:00 PM
When roofs are allowed to leak to the point that ceilings are falling down and floors are buckling as a result I would say is a track record of neglect. Preventative maintenance to avoid these situations would have saved the taxpayer lots of money.
Mom of 4 May 01, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Charles Carroll has over 300 students.
newsjunkie May 01, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Speak to the Carroll County Commissioners about that one. They are the ones who believe they know better than the Board of Education when a roof or a heating system needs to be replaced. They eliminated funding for several roof replacements and have stated a patch should be used instead of a full replacement even if the roof has outlived it's useful life.
Buck Harmon May 01, 2012 at 07:31 PM
That is exactly my point newsjunkie...Not only these Commissioners, but previous Commissioners have neglected their collective responsibility to properly maintain public property. The school board can only beg for the funding needed..

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