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Fate of the old middle school still unknown

Meeting proposed to discuss shift of all Potomac Elementary students next year

The King George School Board is still unsure about what to do with the former middle school building which was closed by the division in June.  
School Board members indicated last week at a meeting on Sept. 23 they are leaning toward the idea of shifting all Potomac students to the old middle school next year in September 2010.
Superintendent Candace Brown first floated that scheme to move Potomac students and staff next year to the middle school building at a meeting on Sept. 9.
That use of the former middle school building would be for the short term because the School Board desires Potomac to be renovated during 2010-2011 and wants it empty during that construction.
Then the division would move Potomac students back to the renovated school, along with going through a formal redistricting process that would end up changing the elementary school attendance areas to get more kids at Potomac and a better distribution of student numbers at the other elementary schools.  
According to the current scheme, that redistricting of students among the elementary schools could likely not take effect until at least 2012-2013 and might also include conversion of the former middle school building into a permanent elementary school.

Vote in the poll "Former KGMS Building" on the right side of this page.

But as of last week’s meeting, the School Board was still undecided about the long term use of the former middle school, since they are still talking about converting it to an intermediate school to serve fifth and sixth grades, as has been discussed for over four years.
Either way, on Sept. 23 School Board members agreed they want the former middle school building renovated now, and they might want to add a wing to it at the same time.
Brown suggested they decide the ultimate use of the building prior to any renovations, saying if it is to become a permanent elementary school, then some bathrooms need to be outfitted for younger students while other proposed construction work is being done.

Meeting with supervisors proposed
The School Board is proposing to meet with the Board of Supervisors later in October to discuss its current proposals and see if the county would be willing to fund the various renovations, upgrades and new construction on the School Board’s timetable, which has not been entirely fleshed out yet.  
In addition to the former middle school and Potomac, the School Board also wants to talk to supervisors about other costly ideas, including renovations to the oldest parts of old King George Elementary School (old KGES).
They also want to discuss proposed construction of a combined vehicle maintenance facility for county and schools, which was discussed a year ago with little enthusiasm from most members of the School Board.
The proposed joint meeting may not take place on the School Board’s timetable. Supervisors may prefer the School Board to hash out their priorities by talking amongst themselves some more first.
The Board of Supervisors could likely feel its déjà vu all over again.  
There was a joint meeting last Oct. 29, and it is beginning to sound like this next one could be an eerily familiar replay.
Supervisors needed some temporary space for the Public Service Authority and wanted to know if the School Board would be using the middle school.  
At that joint meeting, School Board member Payne Kilbourn provided numerous pages of his analysis specifying the division’s need for the former middle school for continued use to house students.
Then in December, the School Board made an about-face and jettisoned plans for use of the middle school in the current school year, due to costs. Those costs have not gone away and the economy is still teetering.
Also, at a Supervisors meeting on Sept. 15, County Administrator Travis Quesenberry relayed the School Board’s request for a joint meeting having to do with facility improvements and use of their facilities.
Chairman Joe Grzeika responded, saying that if the School Board wanted a joint meeting, they needed to first do their homework.  
He added that prior to a joint meeting, the School Board should have, “done their assessment, prioritized their projects, and have that in writing so we can review it before the meeting.  It seems reasonable if we are going to discuss that, then they ought to have done their part.”
That direction was passed along by Quesenberry to Brown in a memo.  

Cost Estimates   
Potomac Elementary School: For Potomac Elementary School, the division estimated in its most recent Capital Improvements Program request to the county that renovations would cost about $3.1 million to renovate the 1950s section and for roof repairs.
The county is currently reviewing 17 proposals received from a request for proposals for a condition assessment of Potomac Elementary School to determine what renovations are needed and come up with a firm cost.
FORMER MIDDLE SCHOOL: For the former middle school, the school officials last year estimated the cost for needed renovations at $1,450,975 to replace the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system, construct a new well, purchase and install a multimedia system, and refurbish the school’s lecture room.
But the division estimated in its most recent Capital Improvements Program request last fall to the county that it would cost $2,225,500 to replace the heating, ventilation and cooling system and $140,000 for well replacement.  
In addition, division officials last year estimated close to $3 million for additional startup and operating costs for the first year of an intermediate school in the existing building.  
They also said they thought it would cost more than $1.2 million in subsequent years for the annual, recurring costs of operations for an intermediate school to pay for administrators, faculty, guidance and support staff, along with equipment, books and supplies in that building.
OLD KING GEORGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: For old King George Elementary School, the division estimated in its most recent Capital Improvements Program request to the county that $342,277 would be needed for roof repairs.  
The Board of Supervisors wants to know more from school officials about the current and future plans for use of the various sections of the old building before they put money into it.  
The classrooms in the main hallway are currently being used for early childhood education and to house a computer training room and an office for the division psychologist.  
The cafeteria is used by Head Start and by the division for some training for the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC), as well as by the county Department of Parks & Recreation.
The former multi-purpose room is jammed with stacks of old school furniture. Brown suggested the multi-purpose room might be renovated to be used for something by the early childhood education.
The gym is not being used by the school division, but is being used for programs by the county Department of Parks & Recreation.
The former art room is used by the division Operation & Maintenance department primarily for storage.
Most of the other rooms are vacant or contain junk. The double doorway on the east side of the building has an open space under it large enough for small mammals to gain entry.
School Board member Dennis Paulsen tossed out the idea that the division could renovate all the unused sections and get some entity to run an alternative education center in the building.

Current schools in use
A new high school opened in February. When school started in early September, the former high school building became the county’s single middle school, but only for seventh and eighth grades.
The sixth grades are housed at the county’s three elementary schools with grades Kindergarten through fifth grades.
Old King George Elementary houses Head Start and Early Childhood Education.
The former middle school building is vacant.

 Phyllis Cook,  Staff Reporter

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