HAGERSTOWN—Of those who weighed in at a public meeting Monday, the consensus was to demolish Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown and build a new school.
Washington County Public Schools officials are figuring out what approach to take in opening a new school there.
Last month, the Washington County Board of Education voted 4-3 to eliminate two options in which part of the existing school building would be incorporated into a new one.
That leaves two other choices:
- Leaving part of the existing building for a future use and putting up a new building
- Tearing down all of the existing building and putting up a new building, providing more open space for playing fields.
A design team recommended demolishing the existing building.
At a public meeting at the school Monday, several of the roughly 25 people who attended backed the design team’s recommendation.
Kristy Sollenberger and Holly Luther liked that idea best, as did Mia Scatliffe and Sandy Gilmer.
Chad Criswell, a senior project and planning supervisor for the school system, said the goal is to start building a new school in July 2012.
The cost of demolishing the old school and building a new one is estimated to be $17.2 million — the lowest of the four options that were considered, if the cost of maintenance and utilities for the unoccupied original building is included.
The new school building is expected to be 73,186 square feet and open for the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The original part of Bester Elementary School, at the northeast corner of South Potomac Street and Memorial Boulevard, was built in 1930 and 1938, according to an executive summary prepared by Grimm + Parker Architects, which is working on the project.
The building was renovated in 1988.
A one-story addition was built in 1965.
Criswell said the plan is to include something in the new building and grounds that “memorializes” the old building and its history. That could mean reusing a cornerstone or posting photos of people or yearbooks on the walls.
He encouraged the public to make suggestions.
Teacher Kris McGee said she could imagine using a timeline and photos to teach history and math.
Some parents urged the school system to create a better path for traffic, which has been a headache there for years. Vehicles back up from the parking lot onto South Potomac Street.
Criswell said the school system is committed to improving the traffic flow and moving the parking lot entrance north along South Potomac Street, away from the intersection of Memorial Boulevard.
A connection to Mill Street on the opposite side of the property is possible, he said.