- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Work is set to begin this summer at Mechanicsville Elementary School after the St. Mary’s school board approved new playground equipment to be installed in advance of new parking lots and entrances.
The board last week awarded the Mechanicsville school playground project to Playground Specialists, Inc. for two playgrounds and a swing set along with fall surfaces for a cost of $142,028, including installation.
Larry Hartwick, supervisor of design and construction, said that hopefully most of the playground would be ready soon after the start of school in August.
Mechanicsville Elementary School, Ridge Elementary School and Oakville Elementary School, were identified as a high priority for playground replacements in 2009. The playground at Ridge Elementary School was replaced in 2010 and the replacement of the playground at Oakville Elementary School is under way along with parking lot and entrance modifications.
The site improvements for bus parking and access improvements at Mechanicsville Elementary School are currently under review by St. Mary’s County’s Department of Land Use and Growth Management.
As currently planned, Hartwick said that four to five months of work needs to be done at Mechanicsville Elementary before the start of the 2013 - 2014 school year.
There will be a six-foot tall plywood fence put up around the construction area behind the school once work starts there around next year’s spring break, Hartwick said. That fence will help keep the work area separate from the play yards and keep children safe, he said.
Once next summer rolls around, he said, work will begin on the front parking lot area.
All traffic will come in from the back of the school off of Old Village Road. The entrances that front Route 235 will likely be blocked and used only for emergencies or school events.
Brad Clements said that he has heard some objections, including from one county commissioner, over routing buses down Old Mechanicsville Road to enter the school parking lot. Clements said that now all but about two buses come from the back side of the school where most of the Mechanicsville school district lies.
This new formation will keep those buses from having to go out onto Route 235 to enter the school and leave a safer operation, Clements said.
“I think we’re doing the right thing,” school board member Cathy Allen said, adding that the new layout will keep buses from having to cross over Route 235.
Clements said that the Three Notch Trail, a walking and biking path that eventually will run from Lexington Park to St. Mary’s County’s northern border in Charlotte Hall, will stretch directly behind the school. Trail users will be able to use the school’s new rear parking lot, especially on weekends, he said.
Classrooms to be rearranged at Green Holly Elementary
A renovation to parts of Green Holly Elementary School is back on track for work to start this summer.
The $318,470 in work will include modifying classrooms to keep the preschool and prekindergarten classes in one section of the school near where Judy Center classes are now. Crews will change entrances to hallway bathrooms so they will be accessible directly from classrooms.
Also, all doors to the school building will be converted to electronic locks that teachers and staff open with key badges and about 60 deteriorating doors at the school will be replaced.
The project was put out to bid earlier but bids came back over budget, school officials said. The project was retooled and put back out to bid this spring; the school board Wednesday awarded the contract to Dennis Anderson Construction, which was the lowest bidder and met minority business enterprise goals, Hartwick said.
Work on the interior modifications will begin this summer at Green Holly and be completed by December as crews work after school and on weekends, Hartwick said.
Plan for new schools examined, refined
The school board also approved a long-term educational facilities master plan that rearranged the schedule for some new school buildings, including moving up construction of a new elementary school. Several large school projects have been deferred over the last few years due to budget constraints, Kim Howe, coordinating supervisor of capital planning, said.
Design is under way for a new elementary school to open in August 2015 on property known as the Hayden farm in Leonardtown. Another new school will be needed almost immediately once the school at the Hayden site opens, school officials said, because of continued enrollment increases.
That proposed new elementary school will likely be located in the southern section of the county and could open in August 2018. After that, the next new elementary school, planned to open seven years from now, would be back in the central section, school officials said.
The facilities master plan is the basis for the school’s capital improvements program request that will be made in the fall to the county government.
“This is a planning document, not a funding document,” Howe said.
All but four of the county’s elementary schools are over the local-rated capacity, although trailers at schools help bring those enrollments within or close to capacity at most of the schools, with the exception of Evergreen Elementary School which was more than 100 students over capacity at the beginning of last school year and projected to grow more this year.
“We’re going to continue to build in creative ways to get this done,” board member Mary Washington said.