Superintendent Kimberly Hill and Board of Education Chairman Michael Lukas updated the state Board of Public Works (BPW) today on a 10-year facilities plan that blends new school construction with renovations and expansions.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) requested nearly $17 million in funding from the state for the construction of elementary #22 in White Plains off Billingsley Road, the renovation and expansion of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School and kindergarten additions at Berry and Dr. James Craik elementary schools.
The state, through the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC), has already recommended $7 million in funding for the projects. At the BPW hearing today, Lukas asked for full funding of the school system’s request. “The IAC and the Board of Public Works have been supportive of our efforts in Charles County, and we appreciate all you do to help us maintain quality facilities. … we are here today to ask you to consider funding the remaining $10 million of our request,” he said.
School system officials annually appear before the BPW for capital improvement funding beyond the IAC recommendation. The BPW includes Gov. Larry Hogan, State Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
Hill discussed the need for school renovations in Charles County, stating 68 percent of the system’s buildings are at least 25 years old. Renovating older schools allows for growth while bringing the same level of educational and building performance found in the system’s newest schools. Dr. Mudd is a 50-year-old facility and the renovation supports population growth, enhances the community-use space allocated for the Judy Center and provides classrooms for a growing special education population.
The Superintendent said CCPS is experiencing the second fastest growth in the state of special education students. “Both the new elementary school and the Dr. Mudd renovation include the addition of three specialized classrooms for regional special education programs that support students with significant academic, communication, physical and behavioral disabilities. Adding regional special education classrooms reduces transportation costs and lengthy travel times, and maximizes time for teaching and learning,” Hill said.
Kindergarten additions are another way CCPS reduces overcrowding, Hill said. Additions provide permanent space for the increase of students created when the state established full-day kindergarten for all children. The two schools in this year’s CIP funding help complete 12 of the 18 schools needing additions. The six remaining elementary schools are slated for kindergarten additions in the five-year capital improvement plan (CIP).
The plan also provides for permanent solutions for open-space schools. The CIP addresses the 11 CCPS school buildings with open-space layouts. An innovative idea from the 1960s, open-space schools take a toll educationally and financially, Hill said. Over the years CCPS has retrofitted many of these schools with temporary walls, but permanent solutions are necessary to eliminate distraction and noise. Two CCPS renovation planning requests — Benjamin Stoddert Middle School and Eva Turner Elementary School — remove open space areas. The planning request for a graduated renovation project at Maurice J. McDonough High School begins to close that school’s open-space layout. And, Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School is programmed for an open-space enclosure project next year, Hill said.
In 2014 the Board, in partnership with the Charles County Commissioners, contracted a facilities study. “The Board has used the results of the study to develop long-range plans and to move Charles County Public Schools from a reactionary to proactive mode with a clear vision for future capital projects,” Lukas said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.