La Plata High School was on the short list of schools in Charles County that requires demolition and full replacement, according to GWWO, Inc., architects contracted by the county to assess the current condition of all public schools. According to GWWO, Inc., this replacement should occur by 2017 at a projected cost of $69,778,046.
The firm presented their findings on Monday, Sep. 29, at a forum held in the high school’s auditorium. This forum was led by Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Hill, Assistant Superintendent of Supporting Services Keith Hettel, and Judson Hornfeck, a representative from GWWO Inc.
Mr. Hornfeck presented some of the specifics on how the architects conducted their inspections, including scoring sheets and their complete list of which schools have the most need. La Plata ranked number four, and as the high school with the greatest overall need. After all the presenters were finished, the floor was opened to all who attended, so they could ask questions about the plan or where their school’s needs fell short compared to others.
One of the attendees, Mrs. Jana Heyl, a theatre arts teacher at McDonough High School, brought up that many schools have been asking for renovations for years and are in dire need of them, yet they have been placed near the bottom of the master list. The presenters assured her that they were not planning on addressing every school one at a time and that each school would be receiving gradual renovations, so that no school can continue to deteriorate.
Another speaker was La Plata science teacher Ms. Julie Pessagno. Pessagno brought up some of the undesirable conditions that the science department is forced to work around. Some of the things she mentioned were broken eye-wash stations and non-working chemical showers, improper and outdated safety equipment and science rooms without lab tables. The administration assured her that they would do everything in their power to make sure that the science rooms here get as many improvements as they can afford, but that the budget is “tight, too tight” to accommodate the final price for all renovations required.
Six hundred million dollars was the estimated final price for all renovations required. According to the panel, the only way for the Board of Education to receive the funds required for these renovations is to get the funding approved by county commissioners.
Dr. Hill said, “We do not have the authority to create a funding source. We rely on the state government and the county commissioners to provide us with funding.”
She did, however, say that she is very committed to making sure that this plan works, and that she will do everything in her power to make sure that we get the funding we need to ensure that our schools are up to par, and can provide us with a safe and secure learning environment.
The PowerPoint presentations as well as the complete list of schools and their needs are available on the Charles County Public Schools website, www.ccboe.com.