Work continues on new Bester Elementary School
The new 75,063-square-foot school is expected to open in August 2014
A rendering of the new Bester Elementary School, which shows a two-story classroom section along the south side of the property, near East Memorial Boulevard. A large single-story section on the front, or north, side of the school houses a community gymnasium, the cafeteria, an instructional resource center, the administrative area, and art and music classrooms. (Architectural firm of Grimm and Parker / November 17, 2012)
A formal groundbreaking ceremony for the new school was canceled due to Superstorm Sandy, but Washington County Public Schools officials are considering holding an event halfway through construction of the school to commemorate the work, school system spokesman Richard Wright said.
The school system recently released a rendering of the new school, which shows a two-story classroom section along the south side of the property, near East Memorial Boulevard, and a large single-story section.
The single-story section on the front, or north, side of the school houses a community gymnasium, the cafeteria, an instructional resource center, the administrative area, and art and music classrooms, according to a Sept. 18 school board presentation document.
The community gym is larger than the standard elementary school gym and will be available for use by the Washington County Parks and Recreation Department, according to the approved educational specifications for the school.
The new 75,063-square-foot school is expected to open in August 2014.
The current Bester Elementary is at the corner of South Potomac Street and East Memorial Boulevard in Hagerstown’s South End with vehicular access off South Potomac Street.
The new school is being built behind the current one.
The front entrance for the new school will face north, toward Mill and South Mulberry streets, according to an email from Project Manager Traci Coldsmith.
The bus loop will be off Mill Street, while the main entrance and parking lot will be accessible from South Potomac Street, Coldsmith said.
The school will have four classrooms for each grade from kindergarten through fifth grade. There will be two prekindergarten classrooms and nine specialty classrooms, including a science classroom, according to educational specifications.
Once the new school is complete, the Judy Center program will move back to Bester Elementary, school system officials have said. The Judy Center offers pre-K for eligible Winter Street and Bester elementary students, and offers classes for parents about parenting and health services. The center is now at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education.
Bids for demolishing the current Bester Elementary will be sought closer to the time of the demolition, to be done in the summer of 2014, according to the Sept. 18 school system document.
Grass play fields will be built between South Potomac Street and the west side of the new school, according to an email from Coldsmith.
Through the years
Bester Elementary was built in 1930 as South Potomac Junior High School. Additions were built in 1938 and 1965, and the school was renovated in 1988, according to an April 2011 feasibility study for a new school.
A 1988 renovation to the original two-story classroom section, built in 1930, included covering the interior surfaces with drywall and replacing most of the windows, according to the feasibility study.
The cast stone-arch entrance, the cornerstones and the crest from the original main Bester entrance will be removed from the current school next summer so they can become part of the new school’s main entrance and media center, Coldsmith said.
The total budget for the new school is $24 million, including design, construction, furnishings and equipment, a contingency fund, and demolition of the current Bester Elementary, according to an email from Coldsmith.